It’s not a competition in a strict academic sense, but three full-time MBAs in their first year recently took the lead to organize and stage the inaugural Challenge 4 Charity (C4C) Golf Tournament in April at Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine. “We knew it wouldn’t rake in the fundraising dollars,” says John Saraka, C4C Senior Vice President of Marketing. “But we wanted to get this event off the ground and create opportunities for the future.”
Despite numerous challenges and limited resources, Saraka, together with David Maiman and Brian Gallagher, C4C Co-presidents, managed to bring in 24 student, alumni and staff golfers, raising $1,000 for Special Olympics. The event was a success, says Maiman, especially considering it was the first of its kind. “A couple of club members had played in golf tournaments before, but no one knew how to host one,” he says. Then there was the issue of getting people to come. “Many students don’t have the money to pay for such a premium product,” says Saraka. “We also didn’t really have prior relationships with many members of the business community to tap into. So we ended up knocking on doors and tapping connections and acquaintances.”
Besides raising money for a worthy cause, Saraka notes the importance of events that go beyond the classroom experience. “As future business leaders, cultivating relationships is key to what we do. This is a people-business at the end of the day,” he says.
But balancing extra-curricular activities with the rigorous MBA curriculum can be tough, and knowing which opportunities to choose, especially in the first year, can be mind boggling. “My advice is simple,” Saraka says. “You have more time than you think. Do not let your goals for the classroom get in the way of your goals for life. Say yes 10 times more than you say no, and really make an effort to relate to your classmates, not as B-school peers, but as friends.”