The Art of Connecting Within and Across Industries

The Art of Connecting Within and Across Industries


UCLA Anderson’s WinterPalooza was a how-to-network networking event

February 22, 2023

  • UCLA Anderson’s FEMBA program offers facilitated networking events for newly admitted students
  • WinterPalooza brought together 200 people and provided 30 industry-specific tables for networkers to gather
  • Incoming FEMBA Council president Tiffany Lin (’24) organized the event for people who want to advance in their current careers as well as those interested in switching industries

UCLA Anderson’s FEMBA is consistently ranked among the top five fully employed MBA programs nationwide. Each graduating class averages a salary increase of more than 60% upon completion of the degree. Three scheduling options maximize every student’s participation and education.

FEMBA’s assistant dean of admissions, Dylan Stafford, characterizes the flexible program as “choose your own adventure.” The program takes seriously the responsibility to help propel students’ career adventures through experiential learning opportunities abroad, student-led clubs and associations, dedicated career advising and networking events.

FEMBA student Tiffany Lin welcomed admits and other participants to WinterPalooza

Most recently, FEMBAssadors co-president and incoming FEMBA Council president Tiffany Lin (’24) organized the WinterPalooza, an event designed to connect Round 1 admits with current students and FEMBA alumni. More than just a networking event, it was a how-to-network event.

Lin and her committee saw a need for networking events that offered more than opportunities to socialize. They made WinterPalooza a productive, facilitated meet-and-greet by asking participants to preregister for any of 30 industry-specific tables where people interested in that industry would gather. Mocktails in hand, attendees wore a badge with a QR code synched to their LinkedIn profile, making connecting easy and instant. Roughly 200 people attended. Executive career coach Pam Schulz shared her tips and director of admissions operations Chris Thompson emceed a raffle. When he asked the crowd, “Who all has met someone new here tonight?” every hand went up.

First-year FEMBA David Luong is a FEMBAssador as well as a UCLA Anderson employee

Lin, who will serve as FEMBA Council president starting in the fall, is a senior solution engineer at Salesforce. She was busy facilitating the bustling event — which included a tour of FEMBA offices in the new Marion Anderson Hall — but still managed to meet some new people herself. She chose to pursue her MBA because, during a volatile time in her industry, she wants to explore the range of functions and leadership roles available to her. “I want to advance in this career,” she says. “It was a no-brainer for me to pursue the Anderson FEMBA, and my service to the school has been rewarding.” Lin became active in student clubs as soon as she enrolled in 2021 and also represents FEMBA to the Anderson Technology Management Group, known as AnderTech.

Fellow FEMBAssador David Luong (’25) is co-director of admit experience, and he took full advantage of WinterPalooza — for himself and on behalf of incoming students. “The admit experience goal is to bridge the gap between the time an applicant is accepted all the way to their orientation in Foundations of Inclusive Leadership in August.” During WinterPalooza he focused on involving the 16 Round 1 admits who registered for the event. In his service as a FEMBAssador, he had met most of the attendees over the past few months.

Luong may be in his first year of the program, but he’s not new to Anderson. He is a full-time research computing systems engineer in the school’s computing and Information services office, where he has worked full time for nearly 13 years. He’s pursuing his MBA after contemplating for a long time what advancement means to him. “Three years into my career, I accepted a promotion to manage direct reports,” he says. “I did this for almost seven years with minimal training. I like to believe I enriched their lives, professionally at minimum, but I didn’t have a means for comparison and I don’t currently manage people. With the FEMBA program, I intend to learn how to lead teams and build organizational synergy.” FEMBA’s three-year model allows Luong a longer exploratory period before he makes any new commitments.

Luong has found industry-specific affinity groups to be particularly supportive of his educational and professional pursuits, and he doesn’t hew strictly to his own cohort. “What the FEMBA program and events like WinterPalooza offer is a group of open-minded individuals with a huge diversity in backgrounds, roles and industries, all of whom are in one place with the intention of networking with others. My intention is to take advantage of the learning opportunities from this diversity. Networking outside of my comfort zone and what would traditionally be my affinity groups opens me to what would otherwise be untapped opportunities to learn and grow.”

In addition to networking and coaching, WinterPalooza included raffles and games

“That’s what we’re aiming at with our Palooza series,” says Stafford, “cross-program, cross-generational Anderson networking. We’ve all heard the expression, ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know.’ Well, what if, at Anderson, we can do both — learn in the classroom and build an incredible professional network?”

Luong shared four pieces of networking advice for incoming FEMBA students:

  • Talk to people in your industry. Their successes and lessons learned are insights for you to improve yourself.
  • Talk to people looking to get into your industry. Share your own successes and pay it forward to others. Their future success may be your future success.
  • Talk to people in similar roles in different industries. Their stories may shed light on new methods for you to apply.
  • Talk to people in different roles in different industries. There may be untapped opportunities to discover for yourself and others.