Brandeis International Business School

Making connections during a unique semester

An abundance of virtual programming is keeping International Business School students engaged this fall

Catherine Mann gives an outdoor lecture.

Prominent economist and former Brandeis professor Catherine L. Mann gave an outdoor guest lecture about prospects for a post-pandemic economic recovery.

Hannah Davis ’20, MA’21 knows the importance of staying connected.

In addition to her full-time coursework, Davis is on the executive board of the Brandeis Consulting Association (BCA) and the International Marketing Club (IMC), and a member of ALPFA and Net Impact. On top of that, she works as a “career captain” with the Career Strategies and Engagement (CSE) Center, making her a fixture on the campus of Brandeis International Business School.

Heading into the Fall 2020 semester, Davis was curious how the COVID-19 pandemic would impact these activities. Under the International Business School’s hybrid format, the majority of classes and extracurricular events are being conducted remotely. But for Davis and other students, the unique circumstances have offered no shortage of opportunities to connect with professors, classmates and potential employers. 

”I'm definitely staying busy,” said Davis. “There’s so much available at your fingertips.”

Through her work with CSE, Davis has organized a number of virtual events for students. At first, she prepared questions to ensure audience participation. Quickly, however, she realized such a strategy wasn’t necessary.

“The students are really engaged,” said Davis. “From the time the event starts, people have their hands up and keep their hands up.”

As for the breadth of the virtual programming at the International Business School this semester, there's truly something for everyone — virtual career fairs, expert alumni panels, Zoom coffee chats, English language workshops and free yoga lessons are just a sampling of what’s available.

With an abundance of virtual events, students have made the most out of their opportunities to connect in person. During a socially distanced meet and greet hosted by Dean Kathryn Graddy in September, Jim McCormack, MBA’25, said that the online events have helped him build new relationships with classmates.

“I recognize a lot of eyebrows here today,” quipped McCormack, referencing the masks donned by those in attendance. “This is the first time meeting people face to face, but I don’t feel like a stranger.”

In addition to the meet-and-greet, Graddy is also teaching a weekly in-person class under a tent outside Skyline Residence Hall. Recent guest speakers in the class have included Alan Hassenfeld, co-chair of the International Business School’s Board of Advisors and the retired chairman and CEO of the global toy company Hasbro, and Catherine L. Mann, global chief economist at Citi and a former Brandeis professor.

“We’re delighted to have a safe, outdoor space to gather and learn,” said Graddy. “This semester has presented unique challenges for us all to navigate. But we’re creative and resilient and continue finding new ways to stay connected as a community.”
Alan Hassenfeld, the retired Hasbro CEO and co-chair of the International Business School's Board of Advisors, gave an outdoor guest lecture.

Alan Hassenfeld, the retired Hasbro CEO and co-chair of the International Business School's Board of Advisors, gave an outdoor guest lecture.