By Laura Aviles, Staff Writer
Spring break was just in time for me. After having passed through one of the hardest times of my life, I thought to myself, “Yes, this is just in time.” And for me, spring break was not just an inventory process to increase efficiency and decrease waste, although some could say that the ending results were quite similar to the Toyota Production System. Anyway, it all started with a trip to the place known as the center of the world, the city that never sleeps: New York. I haven’t been there for the past three years, but I must admit that every time I arrive it feels like the first time. It is a crush, and I just fall in love with this city over and over again.
Although my first intentions for this trip were tourism, spending time with family, and relaxing, I realized that it was the perfect time to increase my network. The “Super Tuesday” event was approaching, and I was conveniently already in New York. As many T-birds are aware, one of the oldest standing traditions at Thunderbird is the networking events called “First Tuesday,” where the alumni chapters gather once a month in a designated location to socialize and network with other alumni in the area. These events welcome prospective students for international networking and idea-sharing opportunities. In fact, one of the reasons I came to Thunderbird was because I took part in one of these events in Peru, where I met amazing people who inspired me to become a T-bird. Now coming back to Super Tuesday: this is a coordinated, worldwide event that takes place in March of every year where the more than 170 alumni chapters around the world invite prospective students in their local areas to join them and learn more about Thunderbird.
Many current students who flew to New York for spring break were very excited for this event. It was still winter in New York, and yes, as someone who has never experienced it before, I now can say it is very different from the winter in Glendale. Still, the day received us with a calm cold weather. The beauty of the city at night in Manhattan is always lit up with the stunning buildings that surround it. One of them was in NOMAD, which means North of Madison, where the Belgian Beer Café is located and where the event took place. This restaurant is known by the variety of beers and dishes commonly associated with Belgium’s most famous brewed beverages.
As I entered into the place, I saw some familiar faces, some friends of my cohort and others from different cohorts, at least six current students eager to meet some of the more than 15 alumni that attended. Many of us, as current students, wanted to increase our network, look for internships, and create business opportunities, among other things. For Hannah Badawy, current student of MGM ’17, it was an opportunity to increase her network for a future job opportunity. Even despite the distance, the importance of taking part in it was her motivation: “I attended the First Tuesday in New York because it’s a city I’d like to work in after graduation. I wanted to create a stronger network in New York, so I decided to drive there from Philadelphia to attend.” The venue made her realize how much T-birds have in common, even if they graduated several years ago: “I enjoy meeting alumni who have similar experiences as myself but 30 years ago. For example, I met a ’69 alumni who traveled from Spain to Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and made his way to Nepal back in the 70s. Afterward, he went to West Point and then found himself at Thunderbird. The economy was completely different back then but I could tell that he and I had a similar strain of T-bird DNA.”
For Sebastian Sierra, current student of MGM ’17, it was a great opportunity to share stories, laugh, break the routine, and enjoy the beautiful view of New York. He stated:
“I like the most that alumni are very open and willing to help you with whatever you need. It’s a space where you don’t need to practice your elevator pitch before going there because everything flows so naturally. It felt as if we had known each other before, so I just had to be myself. I managed to make great contacts not only from Thunderbird but also with friends of friends that decided to go. Although some people say that Super Tuesday is only a place to go and grab beers, I would say that it is a place to make good friends, good contacts, relax, and receive good advice.”
The alumni were also very excited to meet current students. Here are some of their impressions:
“This year’s Super Tuesday was so refreshing and fun. It always inspires me to meet so many smart and worldly students and have the opportunity to share stories about Thunderbird and our travels around the globe. Every T-bird Tuesday has its own particular flavor and pace. A lot depends on the time of year and who is in town, visiting from other cities or countries. Our monthly T-bird Tuesdays help our Thunderbird community thrive. Because we meet on a regular basis, we are able to support and help each other grow.” – Christina Lawrence, MBA 1990, co-host of the Super Tuesday event.
“The last event, like most of our First Tuesday gatherings, had the perfect size. This allowed the group to really interact over a few fine Belgian beers. The key to making the networking event a valuable experience is attending as many as you can. Over time you develop friendships and great business contacts. These relationships do not develop overnight, but gradually over time.” – Patrick Gardner, MIM 1981, co-host of the Super Tuesday event.
“I had a good time speaking to fellow T-birds, always an energetic and multitalented bunch. I was able to connect with a couple of ‘old faces.’ Hopefully, new friendships may come about from this as well.” – Ichun Lai, MBA 1989.
Personally, I was impressed by their stories of how they got to work in New York and how they got started after graduation. As one of my goals is to find an internship for the summer, I tried to connect with as many people as possible, and I am glad that I planted some seeds. At the event, I had the opportunity meet an alumnus who worked in Das Tor before, and as soon as I mentioned it, we engaged in a conversation. Another alumnus was talking to me about the artificial digital business and the opportunities related to marketing and how to get insight from consumers in it. Lastly, I met an alumnus who generously invited me to her office and helped me to connect with more people from the area. I never thought that it would be as easy as just attending an event, but it wasn’t just any event–it was T-birds connecting with other T-birds as well as potential T-birds.
As Uchkun Tokhirov, an assiduous participant of these events, recalled: “I was assigned to work on corporate strategy of one of our PE clients at that time and before I started the project, I was figuring out how PE firms are structured in general, how they make money, and what are their risks/exposures. I met with an alumnus who works at a PE firm–we ended up talking about the PE industry for a couple hours and I learned a lot from him. When I started the project, meetings with the client and documents the client provided were making more sense to me compared to my colleagues. We became close friends since then with the alumni.”
People were very welcoming, and I am sure most of us would definitely appreciate getting to go to another Super Tuesday or First Tuesday in New York. There is a place, there is a community that is very alive and eager to connect. Let’s go beyond a touristic visit and take advantage of these amazing opportunities. So if you happen to be abroad, remember that there is probably a chapter wherever you go with T-birds excited to meet you.
As Fungai Mandaza, current student MGM ’17 and an attendant of this event, said:
“In today’s environment, people are overwhelmed by emails and instant messages. The sure way to make an impression is having a face to face conversation with someone. I would definitely encourage all current and future T-birds to use any opportunity they get to go to these Super or First Tuesday events and take advantage of the wonderful T-bird network.”
About the New York Chapter
The Thunderbird Alumni Association New York Chapter (TAANYC) is one of the largest T-bird chapters in the world, composed of approximately 3,000 T-birds. It hosts a First Tuesday event each month in addition to several other events per year. Next month, on April 18th, the chapter will host an event featuring Dr. Morrison as a guest speaker.
The current President of the TAANYC, Victoria Cox, MBA ’03, stated: “Students are always welcome at our events. My advice is to remember to give back to Thunderbird and the alumni community. Even as a new alumni or student. Every chapter needs help. Offer to contribute in some capacity. In NY we frequently are looking for companies to lend us venues for events. One doesn’t need to be a Chapter Leader to contribute a corporate venue or pitch in. What goes around comes around.”
If you would like to participate in a T-bird Tuesday event in New York, or if you would like to find more information about future events, check out their My Thunderbird page.