Networking 101

Everyone knows someone who knows someone. Finding out who those people are and what they do can help you get a job or internship while in college.

Be your major: You don’t need to paint your major on your forehead or anything too dramatic, but it might not be a bad idea to wear it on your sleeve. Wherever you go - the bank, grocery store, haircut, bowling alley, etc. - try to engage in conversation with the people you bump into. Talk to these people about your career plans because they might know someone in your field. Also, students should talk to their family members and friends’ parents about their majors. These people probably know someone of interest to you. They could even help you get into contact with that person.

Ask everyone you see what they do: The best way to initiate a professional conversation is by simply asking people where they work and what they do there. People love to talk about their jobs, and most of them will give you an extended answer. After people tell you what they do, they will most likely ask you about your career plans and major. This is a great way to make a few contacts in your field.

Make business cards: Whomever you talk to about your career interests will not remember your email address, even if it as simple as Making business cards is the best way to get someone to remember you because they will have something tangible from you. Therefore, you won’t have to rely on them writing down your name and email address. Students should put their email address, phone number, major and web site link (if they have one) on their business cards. Students can get creative with their cards to make them stand out; however, it does not have to be fancy.

Put your resume/portfolio online: Students can upload their resume, portfolio and other relevant work using Google sites, Intuit, Wix or other free Web site templates. These are simple programs that allow multiple pages. This works very well with a business card. Essentially, a student could find a relative who plays golf with someone who owns his/her own business in your field. This relative would probably pass your business card along, and the business owner can quickly see your online resume/portfolio. Then, the opportunities are boundless.

Join clubs at your school: Nearly every major has its own club. Most of these clubs bring in guest speakers from that career field. These guest speakers are usually open to interacting with  and even hiring students for internships or jobs. Also, the other students in that club – especially the juniors and seniors – might even pass along your information to companies they previously interned at. Clubs are a great way to meet and learn about companies and people in your field.

Be friends with your professors: If anyone can introduce you to people in your field or point you in the right directions it’s your professors. Some are fresh out of the work force and still have great contacts at major companies. The closer you get to your professors, the more they will learn your talents. Also, they will be more willing to help you out.

            Networking can be tedious at certain times, but students should always have an open mind to it. Every time students walk out of their houses (or dorm rooms) they should try to network and make as many contacts as possible. These contacts can be pivotal resources for finding great jobs and internships.