Regardless of how talented you think you are as a college student, networking is still important if you are to land the perfect job at the perfect time. With no intention to downplay the necessity of working hard and getting good grades in college, many job search experts suggest that networking is the single most important job seeking strategy for college students to help them gain meaningful employment after they graduate.
Here are some great easy-to-use networking strategies that you can utilize as a college student to put yourself out there:
Start With People You Know
Chances are, you may have a great deal of resourceful individuals right under your nose; perhaps your friends’ parents or your parents’ friends are experts in the very field you are interested in. Even if they are not directly in your particular field of interest, talk to them about your goals – they might pinpoint somebody else that can be of help. It all starts with you talking to those you know. Individuals you are already acquainted with will be more willing to share their expertise with you, so this is definitely a good start.
Get a Part-Time Job
I am well aware that college students have their hands full with studying, presentations, assignments, etc. However, finding time to do a part-time job will work in your favor. It doesn’t matter if it’s waiting tables or working at a coffee shop – you may be surprised to know how many experts started off doing just that. The idea is to put yourself out there to meet as many people as possible and put your interest out there. Just be warm and positive when doing whatever you do, and you never know who might be willing to help you.
Meet With Professors
Being a college student gives you first-hand access to some of the greatest intellectuals in the world. Why not make full use of this fact? If there is a particular topic of interest that you need advice on, chances are there is a professor on campus able to offer valuable advice. Do not limit your networking to the professors you’ve had classes with; professors actually enjoy discussing their work and ideas with people who share similar interests. If you don’t do this, you’ll never know if there’s a professor on campus that holds the key to your dream job.
Make Use of Internships
This is one of the most effective means of networking. Internship can benefit you in several ways:
- If all goes well, chances are you may have an opportunity to work at the very company you did your internship at. Studies suggest that 60% of interns are offered jobs at the same establishment. Therefore, during your internship, you must conduct yourself with utmost professionalism and do the job to the best of your ability.
- An internship in the field of your studies looks good on your resume. This is because employers look for experience, and internships are an excellent way to get some.
- Internships allow you to meet senior leaders and seek advice from experts in your field of interest. They also allow you to make friends with fellow interns with similar ambitions and interests.
Make Use of Professional Networking Groups on Campus
Most colleges have student clubs, groups, and associations where intellectuals and enthusiasts meet to discuss common interests. Chances are, your college has such groups. Take full advantage of joining these groups as this will give you the opportunity to network with individuals who share similar interests. The reality is that you may never get the chance to meet such a large group of talented people when your college days are over. Even if your college has no such groups, you can take up the challenge and start one yourself. Who knows, you might begin a revolution.
Over the years, LinkedIn has become one of the most popular sites where college students set up profiles and build meaningful connections that can catapult their careers. A vast number of managers and recruiters use LinkedIn to hunt for favorable candidates to hire. If you are serious about putting yourself out there, set up an impressive profile. You can do this by:
- Customizing your URL so that it stands out
- Writing a detailed summary of your career of choice
- Being sure to mention all your experience
- Listing all your skills
- Including any websites that contain your work
- Ensuring you get glowing recommendations
Your LinkedIn account will represent you, so be sure it represents you well.
Use ‘I Am a Student’ as Your Secret Weapon
This is one of the few instances when being a student will actually work in your favor. Mentioning that you are a student will make the individual you’re trying to reach out to more willing to cooperate, since at that particular moment, there is no pressure to hire you. This way you can establish a relationship while there is not much pressure, and then nurture it from there.
It’s Never Too Early to Start…
Your college years are the best years to build relationships to jumpstart your career. Always be on the lookout – make friends with everyone you come into contact with. You never know who may be able and willing to help you.