At this moment more than 1,100 of our students are preparing to make the transition from business school students to Michigan Ross alumni. Graduating from one of the top business schools in the country is an impressive accomplishment and one to celebrate and reflect upon during commencement. On May 2, we will award degrees to students who have made a major commitment of their time, energy, and financial resources to earn a diploma from Ross. This achievement symbolizes to their peers, loved ones, and employers that they have the analytical acumen and leadership experience to make a positive difference, both in their careers and in life.
I take personal pride in watching our students become graduates. Graduation is a time to reflect on past achievements and to consider carefully what lies ahead. As our graduates consider their futures, I offer the following advice for those who are preparing to cross the Hill Auditorium stage to accept their diplomas.
Make the most of your network
Upon commencement you will become part of one of the largest and most engaged alumni networks in the world. Michigan Ross alumni number more than 45,000 and live in 88 countries around the globe. As part of the greater University of Michigan alumni community of more than half a million, you are virtually guaranteed to find a fellow alumnus along your career path.
That makes the Block M at the top of your diploma incredibly powerful.
The connections you have made at Ross will continue to open doors for you throughout your career. Make the most of the strong bond you share with University of Michigan alumni and fans throughout the world. Those familiar cheers of “Go Blue” could make the difference for you when it comes to key moments in life, from new jobs to new cities to new investment opportunities.
However, it’s important to remember that the best networks involve give and take.
The idea of reciprocity is at the heart of a strong network of individuals, something that our own professor Wayne Baker has researched extensively. Just as alumni have been a valuable resource for you, the time will come when others will look to you for support. Whether offering your professional input and expertise, employing future graduates, sponsoring projects, or making a donation, your involvement as an alumnus is integral to our continued success.
Keep your connections strong
As you transition from students to alumni, I encourage you to keep your connections strong – to Ross, the people you’ve met, and the lessons you learned here. From classroom discussions to action-based learning projects to international experiences, you have learned how to turn thought into action and have begun putting it into practice. You have tackled your studies and projects with a collaborative and inclusive spirit that has prepared you to drive change in business and society. The Ross pillars of positive, action, analytic, and boundaryless have guided your educational experience and it is my hope they will guide the decisions you make in your career.
Make time to stay engaged through alumni clubs, special events, and our annual Reunion. Come back and visit as a volunteer, sponsor, or mentor. Connect with us and stay informed through social media, Dividend magazine, and Ross Thought in Action. Keep in contact with your professors and share good news of your accomplishments. There are many ways to keep your connections with Ross strong, and doing so will reinforce the value of your experience.
Make a commitment to lifelong learning
I encourage you to consider commencement not as the end of your scholastic achievements but as an important milestone in a lifetime of learning. Learning does not stop once you leave the classroom, and the need for ongoing knowledge and training is more important than ever in today’s complex world. As you progress in your career, remember to take time to further hone your base of knowledge. These opportunities can be experienced at conferences, seminars, and special courses for executives.
I am proud to say that Ross is one of the few elite business schools to make something like this available to its alumni through our top-ranked Executive Education Program. As alumni, you will be eligible to take advantage of a complimentary program of your choice once every five years.
As busy as you may be, taking time to become a better leader at various stages throughout your career will not only benefit you, but also those who look to you for leadership, guidance, and direction.
Take time to reflect
Finally, take time to reflect on the tremendous personal achievement that is graduation. You secured a coveted spot at the Ross School of Business that could only be earned through hard work, intellect, and determination. You have embraced the Ross mission to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world.
Upon commencement you will join the ranks of our distinguished alumni who are doing just that in companies, organizations, and startups across the globe. As business plays an increasingly important role in addressing global issues, your leadership, innovation, and stellar education make you the kind of leaders the world needs.