Joe Hurd

Students who have graduated from the Carlson School keep connected in various ways. Some come back as mentors, some serve on various alumni boards, and some find other ways to contribute.

Volunteering as a Way to Extend Education

When Joe Hurd had progressed in his career to the point where he needed a wider business perspective, he chose the Carlson School Executive MBA program. After graduating in 2013 and finding himself chief operating officer of SixSpeed, a fast-growing marketing company in Minneapolis, Hurd felt he wasn’t quite done with the Carlson School. So, he joined the school’s CEMBA Alumni Board and MBA Advisory Board. 

“The two years I spent in the Carlson School building flew by,” he says. “This is a way for me to extend my schooling in a way—to still feel a part of the school while not having to stress about the classwork. When looking back on my decision to attend the Carlson School, part of the draw was its prestige and its great ranking. A big part of that prestige is the alumni network and the implied access to that community I would gain as a future alum. I hope to make the alumni connections for those graduating behind me even more meaningful.” 

The CEMBA Advisory Board is a large group with a wide selection of graduates that meets twice per year. The MBA Alumni Board is a much smaller group, about 10, and meets once per quarter. Hurd’s role on the MBA board is current student engagement. “Our purpose is to onboard current students and new grads directly into the alumni community,” he says. “We hope to increase new alum participation and engagement dramatically over years past.”

In addition to all his work on the boards, Hurd also served as a judge for the 2014 Minnesota Cup, the largest state-wide new venture competition in the country.

As a judge, Hurd reviewed business plans and selected semifinalists, finalists, and the winners in three rounds of judging. “Our group of judges was a great mix of very successful business leaders. I learned a lot, and I was proud to be part of the group,” he says. “I will definitely join again next year if I am invited.”

Instilling Confidence in Students

Although Nick Pilger graduated in 2010 and is currently a senior manager of Relay for Life at the American Cancer Society, he still keeps in close contact with the Carlson School—acting as a mentor for the last three years to up-and-coming students.

Nick Pilger

Pilger, a public and nonprofit management and HRIR major, decided to become a mentor because he wanted to help current students open their minds to all they could do with a degree from the Carlson School.

“As someone who truly lives his passion and loves his career, I wanted to help others find a way to integrate their passion into their education and ultimately be able to leave the Carlson School confident that they could pursue their dreams and change the world,” he says. “It may sound like a cliché, but I firmly believe in not settling for anything less than pursuing your passion.”

When Pilger was a student, he was invested in finding something outside of the classroom to work on that would help him put what he learned in school into action. He ended up becoming involved in Relay for Life on campus and knew that the leadership experiences he would have would help differentiate himself from some of his peers as they pursued careers after graduation. As a mentor, he also found another outlet for these experiences.

“This is something I always try to share with my mentees—finding something you are passionate about outside the classroom will allow you to help discover who you are and what you want to do after leaving the Carlson School,” he says.

As a mentor, Pilger finds that he learns just as much as the mentees do. “I have had the privilege to work with two students who are also very passionate about their work with nonprofits and have learned much about them as individuals,” he says. “Each person brings unique experiences that have had lasting impacts on their lives, and I have learned to take the time to listen to their stories and truly appreciate what motivates them to succeed.”

For more on students and alumni, check out the Carlson School magazine