New to the real world? Feeling a little dumbfounded as to how to get anywhere or do anything in the job market? Well, that is where networking comes in. Networking is a tool used by everyone, but it’s particularly useful and important for fresh post-grads who desperately want to break into the career world.
It is very easy to feel out of place doing this, however. You’re so used to being a student and having the university constantly hand you opportunities. Of course, you always felt comfortable taking advantage of those opportunities because you had the comfort of being a student at that school to back you up. But now that you’re away from campus and all on your own, you don’t have that sort of camaraderie to associate yourself with anymore and therefore may feel slightly intimidated or insecure approaching such networking opportunities. These feelings are completely expected due to the infamously difficult transition you’re going through – yet, you must overcome these irrational fears and put yourself out there.
Landing any sort of professional opportunity is extremely hard, so it should be a give-in that you’re certainly not going to accomplish it by just sitting at home, sending out the occasional resumé. To succeed in this journey, a substantial amount of extra work is going to be required, which takes us back to the concept of networking. There are plenty of different ways to go about networking and you should make use of as many of them as you can.
First off, you must re-evaluate your feelings of detachment from your university. Maybe you are no longer a student there, but you are now an alum, which is just as strong a connection. You can utilize this relationship with your school just as much as you did when you were still enrolled. Being an alum comes with tons of perks, such as alumni events and clubs. Attend some of these and you will meet tons of people of all ages. In one way or another, you are bound to come across at least a few significant connections that can lead you in a direction you’d like to go. You have every reason to be at these various meet-ups, so there is no need to feel any anxiety toward them. This is still your school, so be a part of it and reach out to the community within it.
Next: always, always, always follow up with past supervisors. This is not necessarily in reference to your boss at your old part-time job, but the people who oversaw your work at former internships, or other upstanding organizations you may have been a part of in college, such as the student government or school newspaper. For the latter, you’d be checking in with students you worked with who are now graduated as well to see what they’re up to – you never know where they might be! But in regards to your past internships, get in touch with those supervisors right away. Odds are these are the closest opportunities you’ve had to real career-like experiences, so make the most of those relationships and suggest to meet with these people. This is a great chance to see if there are any openings for full-time positions that the supervisor may think you would be a great fit for, either at their company or someone else’s. Even if they don’t have an answer for you on the spot, you have now reminded them who you are and what you are doing, so you will hopefully be on their minds the next time they do hear of an opening. Whoever you are reconnecting with, there is always a possibility they will know of something, or at least know of someone else who knows something. It’s the classic six degrees of separation rule that will help you more often than not.
The joining and connecting doesn’t stop with places and people you already know – get out there and try out new clubs and organizations. Volunteer, take a fun class, sign up for a team sport at the gym. Do things that interest you that will allow you to have fun as well as continue to meet people. Not only will you increase your chances of networking, you may make a few friends along the way also. The common factor that you must keep in mind throughout all of this communicating, however, is to work your field of interest into the conversation at some point. Obviously, you’re not going to make any networking success if you never bring up your career aspirations or experience. But by no means do you want to bluntly come off as a kid saying, “I want a job, can you get me a job?” – so be natural and mature as you go about this. These opportunities are usually brought to your attention when you least expect to hear about them.
Finally, when you’re not practicing the networking magic directly with people, be persistent and confident when reaching out to companies. If you really love a certain business and would sincerely love to be a part of it, send them a note just expressing that interest and attach your resumé with the intention of them just keeping it on file incase anything ever opens up (unless, however, the company specifically instructs people not to contact them for these purposes). As long as you aren’t obnoxious and repeatedly bothersome about it, they should respect your initiative and appreciate knowing that someone genuinely wants to work for them. Just like with your other networking subjects, these people will now have you on their mind – or at least on file – and may come to you first when a desired position becomes available.
All in all, this whole process is mainly about the effort you make. The more you reach out and try, the better chances you’ll have of grabbing a coveted job position before someone else. Do more than the average job seeker would and you’ll soon find yourself dominating as a young professional.