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    35-year-old CEO of $100 million company: I ‘don’t remember’ anything I learned in college

    College prepared Pinky Cole well to be the CEO of a $100 million company, she says — just not in the way in which you would possibly think.

    Cole, 35, runs Slutty Vegan, an Atlanta-based vegan burger chain with 11 locations across Georgia, Recent York and Texas. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass media arts from Clark Atlanta University, one in every of the town’s historically Black colleges and universities, in 2009 — and says the classes she took don’t really help her in her day job.

    But that did not make college worthless, she says.

    “I’ll be totally transparent with you. Once I went to school, all of the stuff that I learned, I do not remember [any] of it,” Cole tells CNBC Make It. “What I do remember is the relationships that I built along the way in which.”

    Her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, for instance, taught her leadership skills and professionalism, and gave her relationships with people she “still connects with to today,” she says. When she happens to see former classmates at conferences or business meetings, finding avenues for potential partnerships is simpler because “we have already built a rapport.”

    “The individuals who I went to high school with at the moment are executives and CEOs of among the biggest firms within the country, but I have been capable of construct those relationships before they became these big-time executives,” says Cole. “So the connection is organic, it’s authentic.”

    Indeed, Clark Atlanta’s alumni range from pop stars to politicians. Probability encounters at homecoming events can result in business opportunities — which is probably going the case for many colleges, not only Cole’s alma mater.

    That is useful: Networking can lead to higher quality job offers and assist you to climb the company ladder faster, in keeping with 2016 research from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. And while it’s definitely possible to attach with high-powered people with no shared academic experience, college graduates are likely to have higher profession prospects and financial outcomes than high school-only graduates.

    College graduates earned 75% more last 12 months, on average, in keeping with the San Francisco Fed, a research nonprofit. College graduates also reported a 2% unemployment rate last 12 months, compared with 7% for his or her counterparts, the National Center for Education Statistics reported.

    Cole’s own college experience was price every penny, purely attributable to those connections she’s made, she says.

    “If I could turn back the hands of time, I might do all of it all over again … spend $200,000 to go to high school, to make some relationships and network with those people,” she says. “Because guess what, your network is your net price.”

    Her advice to anyone on the fence, she adds: “By all means, I consider that you must go, since the relationships, if nothing else, will probably be the thing that can support and carry you [on your career journey].”

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