If you feel as though you don’t need to think about networking until you are out in the ‘real world,’ then you are leaving it far too late! College is the perfect time to be networking and preparing for your future career, so you are ready when you go into the world of work. Here are the best places and ways to network in college.
Make the most of professional networking groups and clubs on your campus
There is a reason that they have these groups – colleges know how important it is to expand your opportunities and meet like-minded people during your college years. College is a unique time in your life where you are surrounded by a concentrated number of incredible people, with clubs and groups that are dedicated to getting to know them, so make sure you take advantage of this! You’ll never get a better chance than this to network, so don’t waste it.
Don’t be too intimidated to cold email those you admire
It might seem a little scary to email someone you don’t know but admire. However, imagine how you would feel if you got an email like that! Most people will be completely flattered to get an email asking for advice from someone that admires them, and will be willing to help them. If you don’t get a reply, don’t take it personally, sometimes emails get missed, or people are too busy to reply. Don’t let it put you off emailing anyone else.
Part-time jobs and internships
We all have to start somewhere, and if you treat every opportunity as a chance to network, it will serve you well. For example, Madonna worked at Dunkin Donuts, and even Oprah was a grocery store clerk. You never know who you will meet or where their careers will take you, so get networking, and keep in touch with everyone once you leave. Today’s barista is tomorrow’s CEO!
Reach out to personal networks too
Friends and family are great sources of networking and advice. Even if you might not see their relevance immediately, you might be surprised at who they know and who they can put you in touch with. Be vocal about your interests and future career plans because you never know who is listening!
Utilize your professors
Professors don’t get the title for no reason, they are the experts in their own discipline and are renowed around the world, and you have access to that! A lot of academics were part of the industry before becoming lecturers so they will have amazing advice and connections. If you have any questions about your future career choice, or how to put together a business plan, for example, ask them! They are there to help you and will be flattered that you respect their opinion.
Think of college as your prime time to make connections and network. Even when you go home for spring or winter break, there is always time to network and reach out to relevant connections! Start laying the foundation today for your future career success.