How to Network in College
If you’re interested in preparing yourself for the future, you need to know how to network in college. Networking is all about connecting with fellow students, professors, counselors, and potential employers.
In this article, you will learn how to network in college and develop your path to the future.
How to Network in College
Networking in college means you are taking positive steps to secure a good job once you complete your degree program. Networking does not guarantee you a dream job, of course. But it can give you an edge.
Networking is one of the top ways college students obtain a job after graduation.
This is because networking in college offers many benefits, like getting quality advice from industry insiders and meeting people who can help further your career goals. Networking can also help build your confidence and improve your social skills.
The more knowledge you have, the more confident you feel when communicating with others in your field of study. You can understand the terminology used in the industry. Your knowledge allows you to participate in conversations, offering meaningful feedback about the industry.
Networking in college helps you connect with real-world resources before you graduate. It can also help you get internships or apprenticeships that can improve your skills. It helps employers remember you.
Now that you know the importance of networking in college, you may be wondering how to get started.
There are a few things you can do to develop a better understanding of networking in college.
Here’s how to network in college:
- Participate in class
- Keep in touch with alumni
- Create a social media page
- Get out of your dorm room
- Volunteer in your field
- Think outside the box
Participate in Class
Faculty members are great networking resources. Not only can they write a good reference letter to support your job search, but they can also introduce you to industry employers. Some of your professors may even run a company when they are not teaching.
In addition to faculty, your fellow students may prove to be good connections. You may share the class with adult learners who work for employers looking to hire. Or, your classmates may be the son or daughter of a company leader.
Think of everyone in your classes as a potential networking opportunity. You just never know which one can help you reach your career goals.
Keep in Touch with Alumni
Some of the friends you make in college will graduate before you do. Meaning, they will have already gone through a career search, interviews, rejections, and job offers. They are a walking wealth of information for you.
Reach out to alumni for advice and networking opportunities before you graduate. You may be able to tour their workplace, meet their leaders, and offer access to mentors.
Keeping in touch with alumni does not mean you must call them once a week or send them emails. Simply keep in touch with them on your social media accounts, or liking their workplace’s social media pages, can help. Like and share their page, request more information, and respond professionally to some of their posts.
Creating your own professional social media page is key also.
Create a Social Media Page
Sites like LinkedIn make creating a social media career profile easy. And because so many employers are already using the site, this could be a great way for you to network while still in college. Later, you may want to create your own webpage but for cost and effectiveness, LinkedIn is perfect for college students.
Your page should focus on your career only. Include all positive activities, awards, interests and anything else that can show employers you are the right choice. Provide examples of writing samples if your potential job will require writing.
Include references, previous job, and education experience, volunteer activities, and unique skills that will catch the eye of a hiring committee.
Employers will be impressed by your profile, especially if you are the only candidate to have created one.
Get Out of the Dorm Room
If you spend most of your college life in your dorm room studying, it will be very difficult to meet people and make connections through networking.
Commit to getting involved on your college campus while you are in school. Getting involved can mean attending an on-campus event once a week, joining a student organization, playing intramural sports, or joining one of the many clubs.
There are clubs for almost every interest among students. Gaming, art, science, math, athletics, fraternity, sorority, and even political clubs exist, just to name a few. If you can’t find a club that piques your interest, start one of your own.
The point is to find ways to get out and build relationships with others.
Volunteer in Your Field of Interest
Almost every agency, whether human service or corporate, can use a volunteer. Offer your free services to a business in the career field you find interesting. If you can volunteer in the community in which you want to work, do so.
Volunteering shows an employer many things, including your drive and ambition. It also has advantages for you, like giving you a chance to evaluate the industry to determine if it is really what you want. Volunteering also gives you the chance to show your skills before applications and interviews.
In addition, it looks good on your resume and can help you outshine a candidate competing for the same job.
No matter what job you are assigned while volunteering, even if it is delivering mail to staff, be excited about this valuable networking experience.
Think Outside the Box
Start evaluating your interactions with people on campus and start finding creative ways to turn them into networking opportunities.
For instance, your roommate may just seem like a roommate. However, they have parents who work and know other adults who work. Some of these adults could make a great connection. Ask your roommate to introduce you to their family and friends.
Attend webinars, ask for informational interviews, utilize campus career services, collect business cards from professionals, hand out personal business cards with a link to your online profile, and attend job fairs.
Now that you know how to network in college, you can start developing your network one person at a time. With each academic year, add more networking activities to your schedule.
Work with roommates, classmates, professors, and peers to create a networking group. With this type of support, your networking efforts will produce big rewards.