According to experts, 60-80 percent of jobs are obtained through networking, whether through social media sites, personal connections, or staying in touch with your alma matter. With the proliferation of the Internet, staying in contact is easier and more important than ever. After all, you never really know who you might meet and how they may help you in your future endeavors after graduation.
Since taking my first job at a grocery store at age 16, my dad has always reiterated “never burn any bridges.” Despite the fact that working as a cashier was not in my future, this saying has stuck with me throughout the years, and has taught me the importance of taking every job seriously, treating it in a professional manner. It has also taught me how crucial it is to stay in contact with as many people as possible, not just previous employers, but professors, peers and family members, too.
One of the most useful skills I have gained throughout my college years is creating and maintaining relationships with my professors. The more your professors learn about your personality, goals and overall interests, the more they can provide you valuable advice, point you in the right direction and match you with the right people. In your senior year, it is vital to recognize that applying to graduate schools requires professional recommendations—as employment requires references—so start making those connections as soon as possible.
Maintaining these relationships is equally important. After landing my internship last summer, I made sure to send my references a thank-you note along with taking time to visit them during my school break, updating them on how my summer plans and discussing with them what I gained from the internship. By keeping them engaged, I feel they will be willing to assist me as graduation approaches.
The same advice goes for internships and other job experiences. Internships are becoming increasingly important, as they are the best way to gain real world experience outside the classroom. Just as with professors, your supervisors and coworkers provide yet another way to make connections and build relationships. So make the most of this opportunity, and don’t be afraid to check in with them once in a while after your departure.
Social media sites, especially professional networks such as LinkedIn, are a great tool students should take full advantage of. Connect with relevant professors, peers and former employers along with joining groups and following companies you may be interested in. After graduating, you can join your alumni group, which may just be your ticket to landing your next job. After all, having that common bond and love for your school is the perfect conversation starter in an interview!
Melinda Boisjolie, NACAC Communications Intern 2011–2012
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