6 Tips on Networking While You’re in College
By Brian Vargas
It’s never too late to start networking while in college, but an early start always helps. Your time as an undergraduate student is vital for building your professional image and the more time you allocate to building your image, the more prepared you'll be once graduations rolls around. Provided below are 6 essential tips that will ease your efforts in cultivating strong relationships that will help mitigate the difficulties of finding a job post graduation.
1. Actively participate in your classes: When it comes to classes relevant to your specific major, don't just relax in the back with your eyes and ears half-open. Make yourself known to the professor: sit in the front, sit up straight, ask questions, and even engage in conversation before and after class meetings if you can. The constant communication between you and a professor could cultivate a relationship and make you stand out from other classmates. Professors know valuable resources; other colleagues, alumni students, and outside contacts to help you possibly ease your post graduation job hunt.
2. Join student organizations: Sometimes in life it’s who you know not what you know. Understanding the importance of joining student organizations like; Student Ambassadors, Peer Mentors, and Student Councils will broaden your reach of contacts and personal relationships. This will allow you to be known on campus and stick out from the competing student body. Never shy away from organizations you’re not accustomed to, you never know the skills you will receive from it, or how inviting that organization will appear to a recruiter on your resume.
3. Take on an internship: Even if it’s unpaid take it seriously, because the skills and experiences you may acquire will help in your job gaining efforts later on. An internship gets your foot in the door and even if it doesn't end in a job at that specific field, it can connect you with other opportunities, as well as serving as a reference source in the future. So don’t just take your internship as resume filler, do your best and you'll thank yourself after graduation.
4. Ask for an Informational interview: Ask for an informational interview. Want to connect with someone at your internship, a professor, or even someone in your field that you admire? Request an informative interview to find out about what they do and how they got there. This can even take place via e-mail or on the phone. Establishing these contacts may alleviate the hardship of finding a job. Provided below are great starter questions to ask at an informative interview.
How long did it take for you to secure your job after graduation?
How did you get into this field?
Did you do any internships while you were in school? If so, where?
What would you do differently if you were to do your undergrad again?
Do you use LinkedIn? If so, how do you use it and for what purposes?
Are there any volunteer/internships opportunities at your place of work?
Does your company hold any networking events?
What is the transition like from college to work?
Do you know any department in your office that is hiring?
5. Attend Networking Events on Campus: Take advantage of networking events on campus. USG hosts various networking events such as; career fairs, dining etiquette dinners, and workshops ranging from informational interviewing to federal jobs. So always dress appropriately, and carry a few resumes and student business cards, because you never know who you will have the pleasure of meeting.
6.Use LinkedIn: Once you've established those connections, keep them, but how? Welcome to the more professional social media-networking platform, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way to stay in touch with professional contacts you may have met at events or from other sources, so make sure you make an active effort to keep your profile updated. Make sure to take a professional portrait, upload your resume, and understand how to navigate the user interface. You’ll be meeting professional contacts in no time.