MBAs Stay Social in Isolation

Students at Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School organize virtual gatherings to maintain their sense of connection.

MBAs Stay Social in Isolation

WHEN MBA STUDENTS at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management in Ithaca, New York, were no longer able to attend social gatherings in person, student council members organized a range of virtual interactions to maintain a sense of community and close connection.

The council put on everything from virtual poker nights and video game tournaments to Women of Johnson Trivia nights and online happy hours. Students also led cooking tutorials, yoga sessions, and discussions around mental health.

“By incorporating virtual activities that help address these aspects of our students as well-rounded individuals,” says Brendan McGrath, the student council’s health and wellness chair, “we believe this will help maintain a sense of normalcy during a period of uncertainty.”

In the same vein, Johnson Student Services office created a virtual alternative to Sage Socials, a networking event normally held each Thursday evening in the school’s Sage Hall. The office launched a series of virtual Sage Socials to help connect faculty, students, and staff. The Sage Social virtual event that proved most popular was a “Meet My Pet” hangout. The office also arranged daily virtual office hours with faculty and weekly virtual town hall meetings with Mark Nelson, dean of the school, and Drew Pascarella, associate dean.

According to Varun Ramadurai, student council co-chair, “We wanted students to feel like the Johnson community was still there for them despite the isolation.”