Networking in the Queen City

After realizing I do actually graduate in less than four months, I began to panic as I realized I haven’t seen much of the “real business world.” Thankfully the Hussman School has a rather good career services department. One of the best things the department does is arrange networking trips where groups of students travel to a city to meet and network with UNC alumni who are currently working in the field. This past Friday I went on one of those trips to Charlotte to meet with alumni at LGA, Wells Fargo, the Charlotte Agenda, and more.  

I and nine other Hussman kids spent the day in a series of four meetings at various points around the city. Our first meeting happened in the hotel lobby where our group met with three recent alumni. Two worked for Red Ventures, a digital marketing firm, while the other worked for NASCAR in their corporate communications department. I’ve never been a fan of NASCAR but hearing about all the work they do and the incredible stories they can tell was fascinating. I never realized how much groundwork had to be laid for a race to go off without a hitch.

I’m also glad I got the inside scoop on Red Ventures. While it may be referred to as a cult by some Charlotteans, it seemed to be almost like a college of sorts where innovation and learning happened right along with making a profit. What I took most from our first meeting of the day was how the transition into the working world is unique to everyone. There really isn’t “a way” for people to dive into the world. As someone who’s facing the world in a few months, it felt deeply reassuring.

Our next stop took us to Luquire George Andrews (LGA), one of Charlotte’s bigger independent creative agencies. This was the stop on our trip I was most looking forward to. I’ve been gravitating toward client services in an advertising agency for some time now and was excited to hear about it firsthand. LGA works closely with a lot of the major companies headquartered in Charlotte and around the state so I loved seeing the reels they prepared. Agency life seemed constantly buzzy and interesting, no two days exactly the same. It was good to hear from alumni of different ages and at different career stages on work-life balance and what it took to succeed in an agency setting. I left feeling better about my inclination to make working at an agency one of my first career stops.

Around lunchtime, we headed back into the heart of the city to meet with several alumni who worked for Wells Fargo. I’ve never realized how big banks were until our meeting. They operate almost as their own fiefdoms meaning they need people like me and the rest of my peers to help communicate across a company numbering in the tens of thousands. I actually enjoyed this meeting the most because the alumni at Wells were just as interested in learning from us as we were from them. While we parried them with questions on how to get our resumes to stand out (no misspellings) and what in-house work was like (less time tracking) they asked us how the Duke ticket lottery worked these days and what the heck is going on with TikTok. We just had a great conversation.

Our last stop was to the trendiest media startup in the city – The Charlotte Agenda. Billing themselves as tomorrow’s answer to local media they felt, to me at least, as a better, super-localized version of Buzzfeed. While they focus on lifestyle coverage for the young professional class flocking to the city, they do offer more in-depth journalistic pieces and recently hired away a few seasoned journalists from the Charlotte Observer. It was interesting to hear their take on local media and local media’s future in the digital world. They had a unique business model for a media company and somehow had managed to make advertising work for them. As a board member of a local media company, it was interesting to hear how they were making it.

After the day was finished, I realized there was one constant theme running through all of our meetings on Friday. My future business is a relationship business. Yes, you need to communicate well and write better than most, but relationships are what underpin the whole affair. It’s a good thing I like people.