3 Ways to Network in College
Roughly 85% of jobs are filled through networking. For students, college can be a prime opportunity to make meaningful career connections and build a solid network. But networking can be scary—especially if you don’t know how to do it.
US News recently spoke to experts on how to best go about networking in college and set yourself up for professional success.
START CONNECTING EARLY
Your four years in college may seem like a long time, but that time can pass by quickly. Experts recommend building your network early on—even if you aren’t actively looking for a job yet.
“When you reach out to a networking contact for career advice but you are not yet actively job-seeking, the pressure on that contact is much lower, and you are more likely to get good advice,” Heather Krasna, associate dean of career and professional development at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, says. “If you are actively job-seeking, there is an added pressure on your network; and many people who are happy to meet and provide advice may not be as open to referring someone for a job whom they’ve only just met.”
Connecting with alumni to learn more about their specific role and work is a good way to start building your professional network.
“You will find that many professionals are eager to provide career advice to students, because they remember being a student, and because most people have had others help them in their career growth,” Krasna says.
UTILIZE INTERNSHIPS AS OPPORTUNITIES
Internships can serve as a great opportunity to not only gain relevant work experience but also to build meaningful connections in the working world. Alex Hochman, senior director of the career services center at the University of San Francisco in California, recommends making the most out of your internships and other relevant experiences to build your network.
“The idea is you’re using those relevant experiences as a way to meet people,” he says.
ACTIVELY USE LINKEDIN
Professional social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, can also be a way to build your network, interact with professionals, and showcase your personal brand.
“Through the platform, students can identify professionals who are currently working in their ‘dream career,’ some of whom they may not have even known were connections through a mutual contact or their college alumni network,” Colleen Monks, director of the Gorter Family Career Advancement Center at Lake Forest College in Illinois, says. “LinkedIn also helps students to strengthen their existing network, showcase their personal brand and academic/professional accomplishments, and learn about available internships/jobs and companies for which they may want to work in the future.”
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