Speaking to new students at Orientation, Ryan Morley, WG’21, focused on the importance of giving back to the community to enhance their experience.

When Ryan Morley, WG’21, was asked to share advice with new EMBA students at Orientation, he saw it as a way to give back to the Wharton community — which was also the focus of his talk.

Ryan explained, “When I applied to the EMBA program, one of the essay questions at that time was related to Prof. Adam Grant’s Ted Talk and book titled Give and Take. We were asked to reflect on our personal interaction style and how we would contribute to the EMBA community. I wanted to share my thoughts on why this is an important topic with new students.”

“I explained how the word ‘networking’ is often seen as a transaction conducted for both parties’ benefit. There is an expectation that each side is taking something. I advised students to view networking through a different lens: to focus on building relationships through giving. By finding opportunities to give to others, you can develop deeper and more fulfilling relationships.”

Ryan recalled that one of his goals at the start of the Wharton program was to find a way to “serve” every student in his class. “Those moments became the most meaningful part of the program for me. Sometimes, it involved helping a classmate get a job or connecting them with a contact, but other times it was just spending time talking about a job change or hosting a study group for a class that was within my area of expertise. I also served as an advocate for my class during the COVID-19 pandemic. When it was safe to get together, I helped organize special class reunion weekends.”

Four EMBAs sit around a brown table in a restaurant.

Ryan also helped organize a running club that met up on Saturday mornings before classes and hiked a 14,000-foot mountain with classmates. “Many of my classmates found ways to serve each other by organizing dinners, special weekend trips, and lunches in their home cities. The overall goal was to understand what we were uniquely positioned to give and make sure we provided opportunities to build friendships and enhance the experience together,” he said.

Talking with new students was a “reflective moment” for Ryan and he was excited to help new students launch their time in the program. He said, “The people who get the most out of this experience are authentically themselves and focus on what they can contribute to others and the overall program.”

He added, “Coming to the Wharton EMBA program is one of the very few times in life where you can develop deep relationships with such a diverse group of people. I could never replicate this experience in any other setting. This is special and adds a lot of value beyond the knowledge from classes.”

As for practical tips, he recommended that students make a point to try to get to know all of their classmates. He said, “It’s easy to retreat back to the groups you already know, but try to sit with someone new at breakfast or lunch or walk with someone new to class. These are opportunities to make meaningful connections. When you don’t have classes, try to find other ways to connect with classmates whether it’s remotely or in person.”

He added, “Stay curious because you have a great opportunity to make friends with people who are not like you. Be curious about your classmates’ experiences and interests. Your classmates come from all different industries, backgrounds, geographies, family situations, and more. You’ll never have access to this type of amazing group in one place again, so embrace it.”

Click here to read a story about Ryan’s hiking trip with his classmates.

—By Meghan Laska

Posted: April 4, 2022

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