Oh, the People You Know: 5 Networking Tips for College Students
Are you looking for ways to find mentors in your desired career path? Do you want to have options of where to look for jobs once you graduate? If so, then you need a few networking tips to start growing your professional network.
Doing so can help you as you advance into your field. You'll have connections and resources that you wouldn't otherwise have had.
This is especially important when you choose to get your education via an online school.
See below for more information on how to develop strong career networking skills to find like-minded people that you can use for direction.
1. Start Right Now
The biggest lie that college students tell themselves is that they can't take any actionable steps towards their careers while they're still in school.
It's quite the contrary! In fact, those that take even a few baby steps to build connections are the ones that get ahead when they graduate.
The best advice we can give you on building your professional network? Start right now. Don't wait until you go to apply for jobs to make connections. It's all about the steps you take right now.
For example, let's say you're wanting to pursue a criminal justice career.
The first step, if you haven't done so already, is to enroll in a strong criminal justice program.
From that point on, your focus should be on building connections. Take visits to your local police department. Reach out to professionals in your desired position to interview them about their job.
For those of you wanting to pursue something in business, search the internet for seminars and speaking events that you can attend.
Contrary to what you might believe, business professionals, admire any young gun that's looking to advance their career right away. That's the type of person they want to hire.
2. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
First things first, let's talk about the personal brand you're throwing out there via your social media accounts.
Is there any content on there that shouldn't be? Do you have any posts or comments that would be embarrassing for a future employer to see?
Take the time to audit your social media. That's step number one.
Once that's finished, you can start taking advantage of social media to build your professional network.
We highly recommend building a LinkedIn account. If you're unfamiliar with LinkedIn, it's a social media outlet that's solely focused on the corporate community.
It's a great way to get your name out there and connect with professionals in your desired career field. It can also be a tremendous resource when you go to look for a job one day.
But LinkedIn isn't the only place you can connect with business professionals. Use sites like Instagram and Facebook to connect with those mentors on a more meaningful level.
Then you can use your social media to update people about actions you take in your career; whether it's posting about an internship, event, etc.
Almost 85 percent of employers admit to using social media to recruit employees. If you fill your social media with positive and constructive content now, it will pay off in the future!
3. Get an Internship
If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be this: you're never too young to get an internship.
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to wait until the summer before your senior year to get one.
Think of it this way: if you get an internship after your freshman or sophomore year, that's two to three more years you can use to build relationships with the employers you received the internship from.
While at the internship, try to connect with as many people as possible. Reach out to different departments. Offer a lending hand.
Even if the internship isn't paid (most aren't), the ROI from that internship can be worth its weight in gold once you graduate.
4. Use Your Faculty
No matter what school you attend or whether you're online or in-person, your school's faculty likely has years of experience in your desired field.
You're already spending time listening to their lectures and connecting with them on your coursework, why wouldn't you take the time to pick their brain?
Reach out to them to set up a time where you can ask them about your career and how to establish goals towards your desired position.
Remember: they're professors; they are passionate about giving college students direction. Use their wisdom and career experience to your advantage.
5. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Some of you are getting the jitters even thinking about attending a networking event or sticking your head out there. That's a good thing!
Most college students find themselves feeling like fresh meat when they graduate. That's because they haven't taken any steps in their four years to establish any sort of network.
Whether you do it today or after you graduate, at some point, you'll have to step out of your comfort zone.
If you do, there will be people that are willing to guide you and connect you to their professional network. One day, you can pay it forward!
Use These Networking Tips to Your Advantage
Now that you have seen an in-depth guide on networking tips you can use as a college student, be sure to apply them to your life!
Be sure to read this article for more tips on how to find the right online doctorate in education program.
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