Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Networking in College: 5 tips on how to begin

"I need experience to get a job but I need a job to get experience." How can you break the cycle? How can you build a resume and professional connections that grad schools or future employers want? I have been told I have an impressive resume, not because of grades or academic achievements but I have secured A LOT of relevant experience and a large number of professional recommendations. The college years are full of resources and easy opportunities to build experience, following are the ways I utilized those resources to build connections and network.

1) Get a work study. Not a 'warm body' work study where you sit at the gym desk and check id's as students come in. Find a professor you like, in your desired field or in your department and ask if they need a student worker. This will get your foot in the door and your face known. It will provide a relationship with a professional and a possible recommendation in the future. The earlier you start asking the better. The professor's that are pleasant to work get nabbed quick and I've heard they typically like younger students; they keep you longer and will not have to retrain for a few years.

2) Get to know your Academic advisor. Your advisor is your academic support for four years, they are there to help you. Show initiative. Ask to get lunch or meet with them. Ask questions about their area of interest, their professional development and for their advice. This is another professional connection and a connection within the school- make the most of it.

3) Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer. Find organizations of interest close to your school and send them an e-mail asking about volunteer opportunities. Tell them your future goals and how they align with the goals of the organization or what you hope to get our of your experience. Volunteer as much and as often as possible.

4) Find a church. Churches are GREAT places to build professional and personal relationships as well as get experience. Churches are typically open to volunteers and often love to have college interns. Churches are a supportive environment and when you show initiative and show promise in a certain area they are willing and able to give you freedom to grow and build on that skill. 

5) Get an internship. Even if it is not required, find a business or organization you are interested in. Research their company and goals. Send them an e-mail telling them who you are, why you are interested and that you are inquiring about any possible internships. I did this twice and was offered both internships.

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