How to Successfully Network in College
While networking may seem like an easy enough task on the surface, you aren’t alone if it seems like every career coach, parent, friend and business professional recommends a different strategy for connecting with other people. But rather than trying to go through every method to find which one is best for you, here at Money Side of Life, we’ve got a simple theory: it all comes down to meeting new people.
Your best resources are going to be the countless individuals on campus that you meet while you are still in school. These people are the ones who can help navigate the path to your first job after graduation. Let’s run through some of the best ways to interact with those who can help you along the way:
Get to Know Your Professors
Before transitioning to academia, it’s more than likely that your professors worked in the very same industry you’re hoping to enter. What’s more, they probably still have several contacts within the field, and some of them may be in a position to hire new grads. Whether it leads to a new job, an internship or even just a chat with someone working in the field who can tell you about the day-to-day requirements, your professors will often be a goldmine for connecting to excellent resources. Even adjunct or part-time professors who still work in the field may be able to connect you with their company.
Connect with Alumni
Professors are often too happy to share success stories of their former students, and these former students are often much more open to helping a graduate of their alma mater than a student with whom they have no connection. Consider asking your instructor or the chair of the department if they have a list of recent grads or if there are any alumni who may be willing to speak with you.
Take Advantage of Group Work
Ah, the group project. Long hailed as a way to make students suffer, these types of assignments have really gotten a bad reputation. Instead of thinking about the logistics of getting a group together or having to work with different styles of learners, reframe it as an opportunity to interact with future colleagues. What can you learn from these people who are likely entering the same industry as you? How can you bolster one another as you build your careers?
Join a Club
Whether it’s an intramural team, a Panhellenic organization, student government or a degree-specific club, these groups are great for meeting people you may not have met otherwise. It also serves as a reminder that you can’t think of networking in black and white terms: just because someone you meet isn’t pursuing the same career as you doesn’t mean they don’t know others who are or have contacts who could be beneficial.
Show Up and Be Present
Aside from the organized activities listed above, one of the most valuable approaches you can take is simply showing up and being being present – consistently. Be it by getting to know people who also study/work at your local coffee shop, attending lectures organized by your college or community group or volunteering and interning, some of the most surprising yet fateful professional meetings happen in these settings. By being an active member of your community and engaging with people along the way, you may be surprised by who you’ll meet when you least expect it.