Making Global Alumni Connections in a Startup Career

By Andrew Dunn W’12

Shortly after graduating in 2012, I submitted a Wharton Entrepreneurship Blog post that captured my enthusiasm for pursuing a road less traveled and encouraged other aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage of the universe of opportunities available. Two years later, I’m back to share some relevant findings from my entrepreneurial journey around so far:

world planesSmall Ties are Extremely Powerful

I had been learning my tail off at Host Committee in NYC when a friend from undergrad asked if I wanted to catch up one afternoon. We had only met towards the very end of senior year, but we had a couple of mutual connections and shared a strong interest in entrepreneurship and international affairs. Who would have thought that single conversation over coffee would lead to booking a one-way flight to Amritsar, India?

There, I would assist with the development of his startup, VenturePact, take classes and lecture at a local university, and explore the vibrant country. This diversity in experience did wonders to enhance my skill set and global business acumen, not to mention broadening my outlook on the world. All from one coffee meet-up with an old classmate I did not know very well at the time. Sometimes small ties–the people with whom we are only peripherally connected–can offer us the grandest of opportunities.

Your Network Extends Well Beyond the Northeast Corridor

All grads should have the confidence to be able to go anywhere in the world and secure work. For instance, I don’t personally know anybody in Vietnam, but if I were fascinated by opportunities in this roaring emerging market, using Facebook Graph Search to find “people who live in Vietnam” returns over 100 individuals who I have mutual friends with. I can view their alma mater, current employer and reach out to these local experts with any and all questions.

And that’s exactly what I did on a visit to Singapore­–leveraging everything from WhartonConnect and regional events to resources like EscapeTheCity.org and CouchSurfing.org. The friends, professional contacts, and global alumni connections I made in a short span of time led to a dream job with Bima Mobile in Indonesia.

Originally published by Wharton Magazine, February 13, 2105.

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