Grilling opens new avenue for networking
Scientists and engineers often are portrayed as socially inept geeks who rarely stray from their equations or whiteboards.
Some believe they're doomed to spend their lives isolated within their own departments because they can't master the networking skills necessary to advance their careers.
But at Kettering University in Flint, Mich., science and engineering students aren't buying into that stereotype. While they haven't started hitting the golf course to make valuable connections, they've found another way to network.
It's called a grill.
Every week, about 34 science, math and engineering students armed with marinades, steaks, seafood and even pancake batter gather on campus around a customized grill that an engineering student designed and built. Once the grill is fired up, the smells that waft over the campus on Thursday nights serve as a powerful attractor to faculty and students.
That gives the students a chance to interact with others while comfortably focusing on grilling.
“Grilling more or less fits our style. We're into fire,” said Justin Arnold, a biochemistry senior and president of the Grilling Club. “We're always trying to see who can start a fire the best.”
The club began last year and usually attracts students beyond engineering, giving science and math nerds a chance to hone their conversational skills away from the classroom that dominates so much of their time.
“We've broken away from the social-networking craze,” Arnold said. “We're out there talking to people.”
The club tries to be creative by having themes for their cookouts, such as grilling seafood during Discovery Channel's Shark Week. It tries to educate members during meetings, and some recent subjects have included basic marinades, food safety — and a lecture from the fire marshal on fire safety.
Arnold said Kettering always has emphasized networking among students, but the grilling group has offered its members a way to practice their socialization and networking skills while being in the relaxed environment of a cookout.
“The club isn't something that consumes a huge amount of time, but it's really something to look forward to,” he said. “It's one hour during the week to relax and have fun, and you don't feel so stressed.”
The club has developed such a good reputation for its culinary skills that other groups request its services. Arnold said members try to give back by cooking for charity events and even used their skills to feed the Greek Honor Society.
Beverly Kaye, a career and networking expert, said the students' grilling idea is a smart one because they have found a way to connect that makes sense for them. Too many times people get turned off at the concept of networking because they see it as manipulating or using others.
“Networking is really about what you can do for other people,” she said. “The grilling shows that.”
Anita Bruzzese is author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy ... and How to Avoid Them,” www.45things.com. Write her in care of USA TODAY/Gannett, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, Va. 22108. For a reply, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Twitter: @AnitaBruzzese.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Concurrent Technologies focuses on developing batteries for renewable energy, electric cars
- Trade deals good way to add jobs, CEOs say
- Impact fees garner support from state community leaders
- Auto industry slows for bad weather, but stays on course
- Foreign central banks buck Fed, cut interest rates
- Oil glut forces producers to seek out more storage tanks
- Mud serves as multipurpose tool in $100B shale industry
- Company proposes building 2 gas-fired power plants in West Virginia
- Markets ‘flutter’ day after records
- Profit increases 12% at Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Lower tax rate to help Mylan extend buying spree