Networking. I heard this word probably around 100 times in my first year of university, and I was not quite sure what it meant. What is networking? How do I network? Where are the appropriate places to network? Networking can be with industry professionals, your professors, or even your peers. So whether you’re attending a conference, joining a club, or just talking to your professor after class, you are networking. The reality is, networking is just a fancy word for building relationships. It can sound pretty intimidating if you’ve never “networked” before, but most of the time, it just happens.
Being in a business program, all of my peers were eager, even during the first week of school, to network. Networking is a great way to land a co-op or summer job, gain valuable advice, and meet new people. Here are 3 easy ways to network throughout your university career.
Employer Information Sessions
If your school has a co-op or other similar program, it’s likely that they invite companies and industry professionals to talk or hold workshops at your school. My school’s co-op office posts these events on social media. These events are usually free, open to all students, and often provide food. The employers are happy to talk to students, even if you are not looking for a co-op job. I’ll be honest, I attended these events in first year just for the free food, but always left with useful advice.
Getting to know your professors can be very valuable, especially as you get into your upper years of university. Getting reference letters for scholarships or professional programs is much easier when your professor actually knows who you are. Many of my friends have even become teaching assistants with professors they got to know in their upper years. Introducing yourself after class or meeting during office hours can go a long way.
Student Clubs and Conferences
I love getting involved on campus, and I didn’t realize until this year how many new people I have met through the clubs I’ve joined. Taking the leap to get involved in something can help you meet new friends, but also introduce you to new clubs. Currently, I am a part of a club that plans an annual conference with workshops and case competitions. This opportunity has allowed me to meet the people on my team, as well as make connections with professors and industry professionals that are interested in attending the event. Even if conferences aren’t your thing, trust me when I say that there is a club for everything. So, go join a club to easily network with people interested in the same things as you! If nothing else, you’ll have fun and great experiences to put on your resume.
You’ve probably networked before without even knowing it, but I hope these 3 ways help you to consciously build meaningful relationships. Who knows, you might end up meeting new friends, or landing an awesome job!