"I didn't know your neighbor worked there. I've always dreamt of working for that company!"
March 20, 2015
No matter how many credits you have until graduation, you know the day is coming when you’ll need your first “real” job. For some it feels like a long way off, but for others the day of self-sufficiency is coming all too soon. Regardless of where you find yourself right now, you will one day need a career. So how can you start networking to find your job today, regardless of whether graduation is around the corner or in a couple years?
Talk with your career center
Nearly every college has a career center built to help their graduates gain employment. They typically have numerous connections to recruiters in a variety of industries that will be extremely helpful in your job search. And they keep in touch with alumni whom are happy to help the best and brightest from their alma mater.
John from Textron gave this advice, “I would recommend setting up a meeting with Career Services at your school to find out more about the opportunities that are available to you. I'm sure that they have heard about internships that you could benefit from or even point you in the correct direction of professionals that currently in the line of work you would like to someday go into.”
Take the first step and set up an appointment with a counselor at your career center to begin tapping into a great network. It's never to soon to schedule an appointment, so don't hesitate if you’re a freshman or sophomore.
Take full advantage of LinkedIn
When social media and the job search are placed together it often carries a negative connotation. While it’s true there are more than a few ways to get into trouble on social media, it can also be a tremendous asset. However, LinkedIn is your best option as it was specifically designed for professional networking.
An expert from Hershey’s, Heather, offered these thoughts on using LinkedIn for networking purposes, “Make sure your picture is professional & your profile is updated. Start networking with people in your field and/or industry. You can send them a brief message that introduces yourself & your mission. Make the message short & sweet! The bigger you build your network the more recruiters, talent acquisition & hiring managers have a chance at seeing your profile. Another approach I like to share is to pick the top 10 companies you’d like to work for that are relevant to your experience & start networking with people that work there.”
It’s also worth taking the time to look through some of your close friends connections on LinkedIn. You never know when that old friend from high school who you’ve lost touch with all of a sudden marries into a dream connection for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out through your existing network to make future job opportunities a reality.
Transform the way you interact with people in your everyday life
Every second of every day you are communicating ideas about who you are. It’s important to always be aware of any networking opportunities in your everyday life. There are numerous stories from the contributors at Jobipedia about meeting people in seemingly random situations that were then offered jobs at their company. Whenever you go to a coffee shop, the bank, a community gathering, out to eat, there will be opportunities for you to network with people you meet. You can also network with your parent’s friends, other family members, and your neighbors.
Sophie, an expert from Cigna, gave these thoughts on taking advantage of some of your run of the mill conversations, “Another recommendation I would make because you still have some time between now and winter break is to order business cards. It seems like a small factor but it can make a huge difference. First of all, you will come off much more polished if you can have these networking conversations and present them with a business card with your contact information. You can even give them a few business cards so they can share with their colleagues who they may want to connect you with. It is much easier to carry around a business card than a resume. Second, most college students do not have business cards so this could help you leave a very professional and lasting impression.”
Anyone you’ve come in contact with at some point is a part of your network. The point is to make the most of every opportunity. You have endless opportunities to begin building a broad and deep network of individuals while you’re still in college to ensure you have a job waiting for you after graduation.