Networking In College

They say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and we know “they” are never wrong. The majority of people in the workforce today likely got their job because of a personal or professional connection. To say it’s necessary is an understatement. In fact, poor work related networking is a top 5 regret among college graduates (student loans is clearly number one). So, what can YOU do to better your networking in college? Well, my friend, I’m so glad you asked.

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Get Active

One of the best ways to get into networking in college is to get active on and off campus.

Attend networking events, workshops, and seminars

If it has to do with your field, be at those events. Many colleges and universities host networking events, career fairs, and industry specific conferences. These are perfect places to meet professionals, alumni, and other students who share the same interests. This is the best way to link with future collaborators/coworkers. Likewise, workshops and seminars serve as a great place to not only learn but also connect with both students and guest speakers. There’s no better people to have in your network that those you already look up to in your field.

Career services

Finally, be sure to check in with your school’s career services office. Not only will you find resources for finding internships (a point we’ll come back to later), but a good career services office will provide guidance on building up your professional network. You can even connect with alumni through the career services office, which will also help grow your network.

Put in Work

Other than school, work is one of the most common places to meet new people. That means you need to carve out some time in that busy schedule to put in some work when networking in college.

Participate in research projects, hackathons, and competitions.

If you’re taking a major that is heavy on research, consider joining research projects your professors are leading. Not only do you get invaluable experience, but the connections you can make with your professors and fellow students can be life-changing. It’s one of the easiest ways to guarantee you’re growing your network with like-minded, academic minds.

For the more tech centric students, hackathons, coding competitions, or other challenges can be fun and entertaining ways to network with peers and superiors alike. You also get the opportunity to show your skill which may attract networking chances to you as opposed to you having to seek them out.

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Join student organizations

Clubs and organizations do a lot of the leg work of networking in college for you. Once you find one that fits your field of interest, you already know that everyone there will be on the same page in terms of career paths. Attend as many workshops, events and conferences hosted by your chosen organization and chat up your future coworkers.

Part-time jobs, internships, and volunteering

The best way to start doing something is to just jump in. Getting a part-time job or internship at a company you’re looking to work for after graduation or generally within your industry of choice gives you priceless experience and a solid foot in the door.

Also consider volunteering for community service or campus events. You’re likely to rub elbows with people from various backgrounds and interests that can not only increase your network but raise your personal profile around town/campus.

Stay Connected

Once you make connections, you have to stay connected. Networking in college is worthless if you don’t keep those networks strong.

Utilize social media

Image of Nathana Rebouças' Linkedin page, showing the importance of social media when networking in college and beyond.
Photo by Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash

Professional platforms like LinkedIn are the perfect place to stay in touch with your network. Share in their victories and offer help in bad times. It all goes a long way towards strengthening your connections. Also, make sure you’re following prominent figures, alumni, and professors in your industry of choice. You never know what opportunities they may be posting about. Finally, join any applicable groups and stay active. Being a part of the conversation keeps you at the front of people’s minds when there are open spots in the workforce.

Informational interviews

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. So, take a chance and reach out to professionals or alumni in your industry for an informational interview. One of the most effective moves you can make while networking in college is offering a coffee to an industry pro and picking their brain. Assuming things go well, you’re likely to be the first person they reach out to when they have an opportunity on deck.

The Secret Sauce

Never forget, networking isn’t just about what others can do for you but what you can offer them as well. Be genuine, be helpful, and be open to creating real relationships that will not only propel your career but enrich your life. Be good out there, folks!

Headshot picture of the writer of this article, Kenneth Medford III, with a muted black and white filter.
Kenneth Medford III

Writer, rhymer, gamer: the easiest way to define the man known as Kenneth Medford. I’m a simple man who loves to learn and loves to help and I wander the digital world trying to find ways to sate my hunger for both. Basically, I’m Galactus but helpful.

Check out my other work here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.

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