8 Ways to Network While You're in College

Monday, April 22, 2024

Undergraduate students may feel like college will last a lifetime, but the countdown to graduation starts the day they step on campus.

Students can set themselves up for professional success by building a network while they're still in school, experts say.

"There are many benefits to networking," Heather Krasna, associate dean of career and professional development at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York, wrote in an email. "It may not seem fair, but students who build relationships with individuals in the organizations they are interested to work for will have an advantage in the job search."

While many college students are already busy juggling academics, extracurricular activities, jobs, social life and personal commitments, investing some spare time in making connections can pay dividends in the future.

"At the end of the day, connections are currency," says Alex Hochman, senior director of the career services center at the University of San Francisco in California.

Here are eight networking tips for college students:

  • Start early.
  • Play the student card.
  • Get relevant experience.
  • Be active on LinkedIn.
  • Use college career centers.
  • Leverage personal connections.
  • Bolster existing professional connections.
  • Set goals.

Start Early

It is never too early for networking, experts say.

Students who start networking at the beginning of their college careers will have more time to build connections than those who wait until graduation looms. Additionally, people may be more willing and able to help younger college students, experts say.

"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," Krasna 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."

Play the Student Card

"Play up your student status for as long as you have it," Krasna says.

Many people started their journeys toward the workforce in college, and are often particularly willing to help college students, experts say.

"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," she says.

Full article @ https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/ways-to-network-while-youre-in-college