Q&A with Michael Puopolo, BC MBA ’16, on Student Life at BC

When you arrive at BC, you’ll quickly realize that there’s more to making your mark than a rigorous, market-driven curriculum taught by our thought-leading faculty. Just as important for your graduate experience is your time spent outside of the classroom, where you’ll encounter even more opportunities to grow, lead, and excel in the world of business.

Here to tell you more about student life as a BC MBA student is the president of the Graduate Management Association (GMA), Michael Puopolo, BC MBA ’16.

What is the mission of the GMA?

The mission of the GMA is to enhance the professional, academic, and social graduate student experience through club activities, programming recommendations, and social events. More simply, I like to say that we work to fill the space between where classroom learning ends and where what students want from outside of their graduate experience begins.

What kinds of programs, clubs, and activities does the GMA organize for students?

The GMA oversees and organizes all of the Carroll School of Management graduate clubs. These include the Consulting Club, Graduate Finance Association, Graduate Technology Club, Graduate Women in Business (GWIB), the Marketing Club, Net Impact, and the Wine Society. We also work with the leadership team of Invest in Kids (INK).

We sponsor and organize the annual BC MBA 5k, an “Around The World” lunch event, Grad Week activities, and we work with the Graduate Programs Office to coordinate an annual Leadership Luncheon. We also organize tailgates for BC football games, weekly nights out for graduate students, a Winter Gala, and end-of-semester parties for each of the full-time and part-time programs.

How important are these activities for the overall MBA experience?

Social opportunities are a really important part of the graduate student experience. We are in business school to learn and push ourselves, but we’re also part of a much bigger BC community that extends well beyond our graduation. The GMA is more than just a party-planning committee, but we don’t overlook this component: it’s important that we foster that sense of community and friendship among all of the graduate students.

Last year, we noticed that a lot of events that were organized by one club had a theme that was very closely related to the subject and focus of another club, so one of our top priorities has been finding ways to encourage our clubs to collaborate with the goal of reaching the full class. For example, if the Marketing Club is bringing in a marketing director for a tech company or the Finance Association has a speaker who shares her experience as a woman in the industry, these events clearly speak to the missions of two or more clubs. By getting the message out to the whole class, we are giving all students the opportunity to take part in a valuable event. I’d also like to add, these activities are definitely not limited to full-time MBA students. All part-time MBA, MSA, and MSF classmates are encouraged to participate.

What has been your proudest moment as the GMA president?

In November, GWIB and the Graduate Tech Club worked together to plan and organize a Women In Tech panel featuring BC alumni, innovators, and entrepreneurs from Apple, EMC, BeautyTouch, Pivotal Labs, and Tapjoy. With these two clubs working together, the event received a huge turnout and overwhelmingly positive feedback. Students from across the entire graduate community had the opportunity to hear these women share their experiences. For me, it was a shining example of the type of impact that our clubs and their leaders can have when they work together as an effective team. That the subject of the event was central to such an important conversation happening all across the country was something else I was proud to have been a part of. It’s a relevant topic that touches on the business experience of industry leaders, as well as social issues like gender equality in the workplace and the classroom. These conversations and panel discussions are critical to understanding complex issues, which in turn makes us all better leaders.

What advice would you offer prospective MBAs about getting involved within their program? More specifically, how might a prospective student get involved with BC’s GMA?

Business school is more than a curriculum or a degreeit’s a transformative experience. It’s an investment in yourself and in your career, so you should do everything you can to make the most of it. Go to as many events as you can, sit in on discussions you know nothing about, and most importantly, get involved. Not only is club leadership a great applied management experience, it’s also very rewarding.

I was not involved with GMA last year, but I was heavily involved with three clubs in my first year. If someone is interested in leading the GMA, it certainly helps to be part of GMA in your first year, but it’s more important that you’re generally involved in clubs and social events. This is how you get to know your classmates; you work with them, make connections, and leave a positive impression. Just like anywhere else, you start crafting your personal brand right away, so dive in right at the start.