Student Perspective: Networking
This week: NETWORKING
We are all familiar with the social networks of My Space, Twitter, Facebook, etc., but how often do we take advantage of the casual or formal relationships we have developed over the course of our lives?! When people say “It’s all about who you know” that applies, in part, to scoring the right job for you.
So what did I do? Spring of my Junior year I was surrounded by Seniors in my classes, nervously applying anywhere applications were being accepted. So I started my research.
1) Strengths/Weaknesses: It helped to discuss my strengths and weaknesses with those who knew me best, like family and roommates, etc. I then took the Strong Interest and FOCUS assessments offered at Career Services. My counselor discussed the results with me, which affirmed what I already knew and revealed areas that needed work. You can take them online here.
2) Research: I then researched dream jobs that satisfied my preferences. The Word document that recorded my findings still grows as I hear of friends applying to new and interesting jobs. The best research I have done is through conducting informational interviews with people in my field of interest (humanitarian aid, volunteer coordination, leadership development) and finding out how they got started and what advice they may have for an upcoming graduate. Before talking to a contact, know what kind of work interests you – they can’t read your mind!
3) Contacts: Who DO you know? I developed an Excel spreadsheet of people’s contact information who could refer me or offer information about a job if I so desired. The people on the list included: teachers, pastors, counselors, students, speakers, nonprofit volunteer directors, friends of friends, etc. Job fairs of any field are an excellent way to meet employers: check our website for events www.auburn.edu/career. A contact can be ANYONE!
4) Make contacts a connection: An individual’s first impression of your personality and work ethic will resonate with them. Being respectful to all and seizing opportunities to connect with someone will carry you far in life. If you meet with an important contact, be sure to follow up by expressing your appreciation for their time and information. Do not assume a contact has forgotten about you after a certain period of time; it is alright to jog their memory with an email or phone call.
5) Know your contact: How busy is their schedule? How familiar are you with the person or company? How long ago did you communicate? The answers to these questions will determine if you contact them via a meeting, an email, a telephone call, a Facebook message or even a letter. There is power in the written word, but personality can be best expressed in person.
It is never too early to start networking and staying in contact with people who have valuable information to offer you on your job search. This is a lifelong practice and a very rewarding one when done correctly. So get out there, scout information from those in the field, your findings can be surprising.
My recent networking moments:
- ODK Honor Society Conference, Houston, TX. At the banquet night I met a man who runs a Non-Profit Board conference who then referred me to a woman at Chapel Hill, NC in charge of the Philanthropy Graduate School. She brainstormed with me about my strengths, affirmed my Liberal Arts degree, revised my resume and gave valuable advice for how to spend my last semester. She is the reason I am working in an office this semester!
- Auburn University’s Dr. Paul Harris oversees Honors College and Prestigious Scholarships and Internships. He is a wealth of information. Mom met him at an Alumni event, he contacted several professors and students about my interest in International Development (ID). A girl about to enter grad school for ID revised my resume before she left for Africa. I also met with a student over coffee who is in the research process. Every email, meeting, phone call or coffee date is additional preparation for what is to come in the near future.
Leave a message if you have any questions or ideas!