How to: Network
Going to college is supposed to help us get careers and make something of ourselves. I’ll be graduating at the end of this semester, and while I will try to keep the interior freak-out to a minimum, it’s the reason why I’m writing this. Each day I end up spending hours on Craiglist and other job posting websites making sure that I meet most, if not all, of the necessary points to be hired. Oh, and I bought a suit. But that’s besides the point. The point is that it’s time to start making connections, calling all the people you met throughout college, and seeing how you’re going to manage to make something of yourself. Here’s a couple of do’s and don’ts for navigating the workforce:
1) Do get an internship. I don’t really care what you do or what negative points you can make about this. You’ve got to have an internship on your resume. Yes, it’s free labor. Yes, if you take it for credit you’re essentially paying to do free work. But none of that matters. Doing an internship will help you meet people you wouldn’t normally, it looks good on your resume and for those lucky few, it could turn into a job.
2) Don’t let a relationship rule your life. I know, you’ve got a good lady or man and they’re awesome and you want to spend a lot of time together. That’s great. Good for you. But all that time you’re spending together is essentially wasting time you could be spending making connections for a future job. Take some time for yourself.
3) Do ask a professor for help. Sometimes they don’t have anything for you. Other times (especially if you’ve done well in their classes), they might have a connection or two that you wouldn’t normally make. Take that person out for coffee or e-mail back and forth for a while. Here’s the thing that you’ll forget sometimes: people do want to help you and all you have to do is ask.
4) Don’t slack off and do give a shit. This isn’t high school. You’re paying for this education and should appreciate the time you have. I’ve forgotten about a reading, skipped a class once or twice, but there has to be a legitimate reason for doing so. Each time that you skip class you’re essentially wasting money and that kind of sucks. Or, do slack off, it’ll be less competition for the rest of us.
5) Do make connections with other students. I know you’ve got your group of friends and making new ones takes work. But think about it this way: the more people you meet and the more things you do in college will result in knowing more people in the workforce once you graduate.
People have got to know your name or have someone they know referring you to them to even care to read your e-mail. There are hundreds of people applying for whatever job you are and you’ve got to make yourself the best candidate for that position.
And here’s the cheesy thing that almost every adult ever has already told you: it doesn’t matter how great you are, but who you know.