In a world where “Star Wars,” “The Office” and ugly sweaters can all be part of the holiday gathering, I am here to say, affirmatively, that virtual holiday spirit is real and alive. On Friday, I attended the very first signature event of the academic year, MBA Community Happy Hour, planned by our fearless MBAA vice president of signature events, Niharika Gupta. She collaborated with the PTMBA Association to provide the full-time and part-time MBA students an opportunity to network and get to know each other through a fun gingerbread decorating competition. Everything leading up to the event and the event itself felt to me like waking up on Christmas morning when I was little.
Ahead of the event, we received small mysterious packages with instructions not to open them until the event (whoops). At the event itself, full-time and part-time MBA students and family members were greeted by very spirited hosts Baxter and Paris from Teambuilding. They split the participants into randomized teams and guided us through a series of holiday-themed team-building exercises, ranging from holiday trivia to an interactive story, and finally the actual gingerbread decorating, using M&Ms, frosting, candy canes and, of course, the gingerbread people from the mysterious packages received in the mail.
Throughout the hour-and-a-half-long event, teams had opportunities to earn points through the activities, by being spirited and answering questions in the chat. Ultimately, after all the teams presented their gingerbread people and the points were tallied, the grand prize of bragging rights was awarded to the Eggnoggets (who also won best team name). However, my personal favorite point in the event was listening to two teams in a row present their “Star Wars” themed gingerbread people, complete with themed introduction music and Zoom backgrounds.
Among the lingering midterms, case reports and team projects we have left this semester, it was nice to take a break from it all for a while to enjoy a fun holiday-spirited competition. Niharika mentioned this in her inspiration for creating and planning the event. “I wanted to create an event that could bring the MBA communities across Smith together, provide a break from intense routines, and help form everlasting memories. I decided to partner with the PTMBA Association to provide full-time and part-time MBA students an opportunity to network and know each other better.”
Overall, I enjoyed this timely event and reminder that the Smith community is much bigger than I often think it is. Getting the chance to virtually meet part-time MBA students while getting into the holiday spirit was a great way to start a weekend otherwise filled with case reports and group projects.
–By Laura Hayes. Hayes is a 2022 MBA candidate and a Forté and Smith Fellow. Originally from Gaithersburg, Md., Hayes worked in marketing roles for four years in the financial services industry before coming to Maryland Smith.
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The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.