Students build communications skills in improv networking event
Baruch College’s Undergraduate Student Government held its first professional event in conjunction with the Starr Career Development Center: Improv Networking on Feb. 5.
The event was led by the founder of Career Play, Marian Rich, and organized by Representative Sen. Aziz Sanogo.
There were about four workshops, Sanogo said, during the event aimed at helping students become good listeners, be creative and persuasive and communicate effectively.
The importance of listening was emphasized as active listening is considered an essential skill for efficiency and productivity.
These are all tools that can help students improve their elevator pitches or strengthen their job interview skills, for example.
Rich, who is trained as an actress and improviser, used her knowledge of theater and performing to help students develop their networking abilities.
She believes improv networking is an unscripted approach to building stronger relationships for aspiring professionals.
“Her background in theater and improv really helped to bring a new perspective to networking in business,” said junior Rehmat Sakrani.
Rich emphasized the importance of the event, saying, “I think of networking and interviewing as performed conversations. So of course, rehearsing is always a good idea before a performance.”
Her goal is “to help people be who we are and who we are not, just like actors do when they play a role. That way, even if you are nervous, you can perform confidently.”
“As Shakespeare said, ‘All the world’s a stage, / And all the men and women merely players,’” Rich added.
“I gained some more confidence in my communication abilities and saw a change in the way I could say my elevator pitch without being robotic,” Sakrani said, agreeing with Rich.
“Basically, the event was designed to help students put their best foot forward when networking,” Sanogo said.
“[USG] decided to hold the Improv Networking event as well as a series of networking events coming up because looking back [at] previous USG's events there were a very small number of professional events done so we decided to emphasize on that this semester,” Sanogo said.
The next professional event held by USG is going to be on March 7.
“We are actually inviting alumni from different fields to speak about their transition from student life to the professional world, as well as [offer] guidance and useful advice for the Baruch College community,” Sanogo said.
Going forward, Rich advises students to “approach life as a performance.”
She added, “When you meet someone make eye contact, smile, and be spontaneous. Rather than delivering an 'elevator pitch' try to talk about the things that really matter to you to what someone is saying. Enjoy co-creating the conversation. These skills are among the most important for success.”