Photo: Samantha Moya

Business students networking themselves to death

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By Dylan Freeman-Grist

Max Maximum stood trembling at a cruiser table in Ted Rogers School of Management’s (TRSM) Cara Commons. At that exact moment, the business student who quintupled as the VP Corporate Relations for Enactus, VP Finance for the Law and Business Course Union, VP Debate For the Economics Course Union, VP Marketing for Toastmasters and Senior marketing associate with the Ryerson University Finance Society finally realized he had a problem.

“It was like this tremble rocking my whole body,” Maximum recalls. “I knew right then I had HCAD.”

HCAD, or Hyperactive Conference Attachment Disorder, is an affliction that causes business students to devote almost every waking hour to attending or preparing for conferences, summits and networking nights. Left unchecked, it can lead to decimated GPAs, stunted development and starvation. Once an anomaly, the illness has been on the rise since the great recession of 2008, when it became clear that business school was the only post-secondary option with “real” job prospects. It now impacts nearly half of all commerce students in the country.

“We’re getting to the point where business students literally can’t function unless they are in a conference environment,” noted prominent business psychology researcher Glen Goodall, who has dedicated his life to understanding the HCAD phenomenon.

When Maximum first finally accepted he needed to deal with his HCAD he was a delegate at a local princess and knitting convention. It marked his 68th networking event since September. He knew if he did not seek help he may end up like some of his colleagues who simply networked themselves into their graves.  

“I don’t actually think I’ve been to class at all this year,” Maximum said, who also later admitted to not knowing what month it was nor what he was specifically majoring in at TRSM.

With more and more Ryerson business students unable to socialize or study in non-business formal attire whilst being surrounded by recruiters, the business faculty has had to make curriculum adjustments to prevent TRSM students from bottoming out.

“One professor told me he had to trick his fourth year accounting class into thinking they enrolled in 12 industry keynotes.” Notes incoming TRSM Dean Al Goss. “The word ‘class’ wasn’t even listed in the syllabus. He has to wear a disguise each week so they don’t catch on.”

Goss added the Ryerson Senate were thinking of simply adding a bachelor’s degree in Networking in order to  fail fewer students.

Once diagnosed, Maximum, like many other business students who catch the disease in its  early stages before it ruins their lives, checked himself into rehab—more specifically, the Ryerson Centre for Recovering Networkers in Eric Palin Hall— which is as far away from Ted Rogers as possible.

“It’s amazing. I didn’t even know there was another campus over here, let alone one so close to Ryerson’s main building,” remarked Maximum, clarifying that TRSM is in fact, Ryerson’s main building. “It’s been fantastic, we have a summit coming up this weekend with other rehab centres across Ontario. I’m going to have to make sure to bring some business cards.”

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