According to career specialists, 70-80 percent of jobs are never posted online. This means most jobs are filled through word of mouth or other private communication, otherwise known as a professional network. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m faced with someone 10-15 years older than me wearing a power suit, I freeze. Everything interesting I’ve ever said or thought flies out of my head. It isn’t optimal. I’ve had to find resources to teach and prepare me for those awkward handshakes and first meetings. It is important to develop your own professional network while you’re in school so that you have contacts to reach out to when you begin looking for an internship and full-time job.
When to Network:
“Networking” sometimes sounds like a special skill that everyone seems to know except you. Actually, networking is pretty basic. It can happen with friends, family, or strangers, at a career event, in the classroom, on the job, or anywhere you run into someone with an interesting career path, similar career interests, or skills you find interesting. Just be approachable, open, and willing to talk about your education, background, and career goals, and you’ll be networking in no time!
How to Network:
Again, networking isn’t a special skill you unlock after you obtain a secret adult card. It's just talking and connecting to people in your field. That being said, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the dreaded question: “So what do you want to do?” First, create a 30-second commercial. We have a guide here on on website. Next, remember that networking is a conversation. Have a few interesting questions to ask the other person about their work or career path. Finally, be yourself. People want to work with people who are friendly and competent at what they do. Show that you know what you’re talking about and how to work in a team, and you’ll be good to go!
Where to Network:Like I said before, networking can be done anywhere. But, there are a few spaces dedicated to making professional connections. Online, you can join Linkedin. We have a student-alumni group you can participate in, and adding your classmates as professional contacts can’t hurt either. Once a semester, the Career Center hosts a huge Career Fair. Check out our tips on navigating that here. Finally, we have events happening at least once a week, where you can interview alums, meet with company recruiters, or visit corporate offices. Check out our calendar for the comprehensive list!