5 Things I Wish I Knew In College That Would Help Me Network Today

23 01 2009

Building a network sounds pretty easy? All you have to do is gather the contact information of those you know. You might even go one step further and ask for referrals from your friends and family. But what happens when you are recently out of college and you live in a different state than your family? Things become a little more difficult!

I have gathered some advice for college students nearing graduation. Take it or leave it, I just wish I was told all of this prior to graduating (and if  it was given to me, I would hope that I would have taken it seriously because we all know college students priorities are sometimes off balanced.) 

1. Keep a close connection with your professors

GROSS, I know you college students are thinking peverted right now. But seriously, your professors are teaching higher education because of their knowledge and experience. They most likely have countless connections in the industry of the subject they teach – and most likely in other fields. Become close with your professors, they really aren’t scary and they can be very helpful! Start discussing future career plans with professors when you are in their class because that is when they know you best. You may not know what you want to do, but who better than an expert to help you.

2. Get experience

Get out in the field and get your hands dirty! Internships are a great way to get experience as a college student. If money is not a concern another great idea is volunteering with a company you are interested in. If you build a good connection with them, and already have experience, you just might have an offer on the table waiting for you at graduation. How sweet would that be?! Without experience you are ALMOST useless. Not to say you can’t get a job out of college, but it will make the already hard task 100% harder.

3. Start networking prior to graduation

Some of your peers are going to be the next big thing in the business world. Get to know everybody and do not make enemies. There are also many professional associations (for every industry and market you can think of) that love young adults. They hold events, conferences, and provide guidance. If you ask me, it would have been nice to have all these connections ready for me when I graduated rather than spending my first few months out of school networking.

4. Expand yourself

You may think you know what you want to do in life, but chances are you don’t. With our generation, we jump jobs like crazy. Explore all different industries and positions while you can. It is like the saying “if you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it” I think that is one of the greatest things about generation Y, none of us know where we will end up, its a ongoing adventure! 

5. Be Professional

I know Facebook is a fun website to tool around on but be appropriate. I am a huge advocate of Facebook being used for fun and other social media websites being used for professional needs. However, there are many people who do not see eye to eye with me. No matter if it is on Facebook, a blog, or even in person – be appropriate. You never know who is around. I am not saying don’t be yourself because that would just be lame, but I do recommend thinking before you act. 

This might have sounded a little like a school lecture or even worse like your parents, but I am far from that! I am a 22 year old recent graduate (August 2008 ) who wishes she would have been this knowledgeable a year ago. I graduated right as the economy was burning up in flames which has not helped my cause of finding a career, but I truly believe that the reason I am still unemployed is because I was oblivious in college to the importance of networking and experience. Lucky me three months out of college and I just know think I know what I want to do…I doubt you want to be in my situation so use that brains that you are spending so much money on educating, and start networking. Your brain will thank you when you graduate and it does not become a couch potato- trust me.

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6 responses

25 01 2009
Rebecca

I love the networking advice in this post. Too many times young people only network when it suits them, but you really need to be doing it constantly (for best results) and I think you show that in your post.

25 01 2009
Rebecca

Also, I don’t see a way to subscribe to your blog – let me know if I’m missing something… thanks! 🙂

25 01 2009
Dan

Great post Jess! You make a great point about Facebook. It is great for staying in touch with your high school/college friends, but don’t use it a networking tool. There are so many sites out there that can benefit you from a networking standpoint. Get on those sites and be professional!

25 01 2009
Nisha

Great advice. And I love your blog btw! Good luck with the job hunt — I feel your pain. I’m graduating in May and just thinking about jobhunting is painful.

26 01 2009
Modite by Rebecca Thorman - Four ways to find a job without a specific degree or experience

[…] you were you going to give me a heads up when your mind started to wander…” Too many people start networking after they’ve started looking for a new position. You should be constantly […]

30 01 2009
4 ways to find a job without a specific degree or experience | Bizzy Women

[…] you were you going to give me a heads up when your mind started to wander…” Too many people start networking after they’ve started looking for a new position. You should be constantly […]

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