There seems to be a misconception that networking is hard or awkward or pointless. Yes, it can be awkward or hard, but it is essential. As much as I want to say hard work alone will get you everywhere you want to go in life, the truth is, we have to rely on other people. Half of the internships I have landed in college were because I knew someone. While this does make the system seem rigged, it is the way the world works, and if you want to achieve all your professional dreams, you need to start somewhere. At the end of the day, it all comes down to networking.
- Reach out to people in your field for informational meetings
If you know exactly where you want your career to take you, reaching out to people in the field is a perfect time to get advice. If you are still trying to figure out what you want to do, then this is the best way to learn. Hearing about the daily ins and outs of a job from someone who has it is a great way to figure out if a certain career is a right fit for you.
These kinds of meetings are especially helpful because there’s no pressure to impress; you aren’t looking for a job, just information. When you both go into the meeting expecting it to be a learning experience, then you can ask any questions you have without worrying if they are the “right” questions to ask. Informational meetings truly are the best way to get insider information on your career choice. Not to mention, even though the purpose of these is not to land an internship or job, simply knowing people for the future is the core of networking.
- Network with your peers.
A lot of networking events seem to focus on networking with those already in the field. However, networking with your peers in college is just as important. The main goal of networking is simply knowing the most people. So, even though your peers are not currently working, they will be very soon. Maintaining a strong connection with them could lead you to your dream job in the future.
- Be as involved as you can in organizations.
You can get so far in life simply by showing up. So, join an organization, whether it be a professional organization or just a fun club, and become as involved as possible. Professional organizations are great because you can learn more about a profession and meet others who are interested. Being a part of professional organizations has been instrumental in getting me where I am now. However, joining clubs just for fun is also important. Yet again, the goal of networking is simply knowing lots of people. You never know when the connections you make could come in handy.
Once you’ve joined a few organizations, get involved. Going to meetings is a great start, but try to get even more involved. If there’s a mentorship program, join. If there are additional speakers, attend them. If there are social outings, go have fun. It is within your extracurricular activities that you make the best connections with others. People also see you and appreciate you when you go above and beyond.
– Chloe Maher, Account Associate