Networking has its benefits, but can also be intimidating. Even working professionals may experience difficulties networking. So when you're a college student, it's no surprise if you feel at a loss and hesitant. Where do you start and how? What are your choices? Consider the various networking options open to you as a student below.
Spend your time before, in-between or after class wisely. Learn more about and take advantage of the services your school offer. Start by stopping in your career services office. You can get help on crafting your resume, receive career guidance and learn about networking events and internship opportunities. Alumni affairs can also steer you in the right direction and help you find a mentor. You can also connect with other students and find out about the various campus clubs you can join, or create one.
You don't have to go outside your campus to network. You can meet a variety of people through simply connecting with the many groups of people at your school. As previously stated, build relationships with your peers by taking part in campus activities or clubs. You can also reach out to your professors, even ones not in your department, and staff. Also, attend events hosted or sponsored by your school. At alumni events, you can meet former students who may be a great source of knowledge about post-graduate life, job seeker tips and career advice.
If you are looking for networking opportunities outside of school, volunteering is an option. It will look great on your resume and allow you to meet with various people in the field. Another option is taking an internship. While getting experience, you will also meet professionals in your desired career who can make great references. Even taking a part-time job can be beneficial to you as you will open yourself to meeting and getting to know a variety of people.
Social media is a great tool to you. But at all times, it is important to pay attention to what you are putting out on the web about yourself. As a job seeker, this is even more critical. Make sure that you're balancing the personal and professional content about yourself online. If you don't already have one, create a LinkedIn account and keep the information relevant and up to date. You can also create a personal website that is professionally inclined and can allow you greater freedom to present your work.
Networking may be difficult, but don't let that stop you. Take control of your career path and find more opportunities to grow.