Job-hunting has become an anxiety-laden process due in part to hyper-competition and the poor state of our economy. That’s why college students should start thinking about how they plan to start their careers well-before graduation. If you spend time on campus, then you’ve likely networked without even knowing it, forming a foundation on which to build a multitude of connections that may benefit you in the future.
With that in mind, consider how much your network would expand if you really put forth the effort. Below are eight ways to network while in college – these avenues have proven beneficial to social and career-minded students.
1. Cultivate relationships with your classmates
As you become an upperclassman and your classes become smaller and more in-tune with your major, you’ll be required to work closely with your classmates. Typically, class participation, group projects and group papers factor into your grade. During the process, you’ll make friends and acquaintances with whom you share common goals. In the future, you can share job leads and other helpful information that could make employment more attainable.
2. Cultivate relationships with your professors
Maintain contact with the professors who were most helpful and friendly to you. They may provide written references to accompany your job applications, or even steer you toward a job opening. Most professors genuinely want to see their students succeed and thus will be happy to help you out.
3. Join a fraternity or sorority
In a Greek organization, you’ll form close bonds with like-minded students who’ll become loyal friends in the long-run. Additionally, alumni of your fraternity or sorority, who are already established in your prospective field of work, will be more than willing to assist you in your job search. Keep in mind that Greek organizations have many chapters nationwide, so a fellow member from another school in another state might even help you out.
4. Join campus organizations
Most colleges provide a variety of campus organizations that appeal to the varying interests of their students. There are professional organizations, volunteer-orientated organizations and organizations that cater to recreational interests. Obviously, professional organizations tend to be the most beneficial for career networking, but joining any organization will enable you to make connections.
5. Seek internships
An internship gives you the opportunity to put a foot in the door. Not only will you be gaining valuable experience in your prospective field of work, but you’ll also be proving your worth to your superiors, who in turn may provide you with written references, job leads or even a job with the company. The more internships you undertake, the more connections you’ll make. And finding them shouldn’t be too difficult. Some departments in colleges provide internship databases that contain internship opportunities in the city and state in which you’re located.
6. Attend job fairs
Job fairs give you the opportunity to speak directly with future employers. Colleges and their departments gather companies and organizations from near and far to recruit their students. In some cases, students are hired on the spot after impromptu interviews.
7. Attend networking events
Many colleges organize networking events that enable students to converse with established professionals in their prospective fields of work. Typically, these professionals speak to students about what it takes to achieve success, and offer any other advice that students may deem helpful – even well-after the event.
8. Join networking websites
Sites like LinkedIn – which has more than 70 million users from 200 countries – are excellent facilitators of career-oriented social networks. They connect professionals in varying fields, enabling them to exchange resources that are helpful to their careers.
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