In the fall semester of 2016, I was able to have a private lunch with Ben Hasan, SVP and Chief Culture, Diversity & Inclusion Officer, and a handful of students. This setting allowed us to comfortably ask Ben questions that we otherwise would not be able to in a setting such as a career fair or presentation. Ben Hasan is especially unique because of his history with Walmart, one of Temple’s close recruiters. He had received his title (that was just created) as Chief CDI Officer a few months before the luncheon and was extremely excited to share the new role and how important it was to Walmart’s commitment to a diverse community. Ben also has a very interesting backstory which many students can learn from, as he talked a lot about how important mentorship was to him and how it got him where he is now.
It is extremely useful for students to attend these sorts of lunches not to make connections but to learn from people who have successfully climbed the corporate ladder and are now in amazing positions with great companies. Being able to talk to Ben on a personal level was extremely insightful. However, it is important that students create a list ahead of time of questions they would like to ask. Getting to the room, students may become nervous and start to forget questions if they aren’t written down. Related to this, students should also learn to remain calm around professionals and recruiters– nervousness can make it hard to form insightful and relevant questions.