The network students build in college can be just as beneficial as the knowledge and skills which they acquire. Creating connections during undergraduate years is essential in the pursuit of attaining professional success.
The extensive network of career and internship connections found at college act as a resource often overlooked.
Though the schedules of many university students are already swarming with academic, social, and extracurricular activities, carving out some time to begin building a network of connections will be worth it in the long run.
The first and arguably most essential step in the process of networking is taking initiative and beginning to grow personal connections.
Junior marketing major and leadership studies minor, Lilly Manning has extensive experience networking. The biggest piece of advice Manning has when it comes to making connections is persevering.
”It’s easy to get discouraged because 90% of the time you will get no response, but it’s important to keep trying and putting in the effort even when it seems like it’s all for nothing,” Manning said.
Although networking can often appear daunting and complex, when it comes down to it networking really is quite simple. Networking is the process of building relationships and making connections that will help you acquire a career or professional position.
“Eventually someone will respond and that is when you can open doors,” Manning said.
A common problem that students face is letting other time demanding commitments obstruct the prioritization of networking. Getting past initial procrastinations and choosing to take the necessary steps to network is crucial for success.
The University of Maryland Career Center, located on the primary floor of the Stamp Student Union is a vital resource available to all UMD students. Career Center Director, Allynn Powell recommends that students stop by the career center even if they are just beginning to network.
“You can always come in and either schedule an appointment or do a drop in just to kind of unpack what networking is, who's in my network, and who I should be talking to,” Powell said.
The Career Center provides a variety of meetings that are flexible to different schedules. Advisors are prepared to assist students through resume reviews, interview help, and career advising.
“No matter where you are in your academic journey, we want to provide programs, resources and support to help you figure out what a meaningful career path looks like,” she said.
The University of Maryland awards over ten thousand undergraduate and graduate degrees to students each year. The scale of the university's alumni network is expansive which makes networking all the more important.
Terrapins Connect is a virtual resource created by the UMD Alumni Association to connect currently enrolled Terps with graduates located across the globe. Through utilizing this resource students can efficiently gain access to the alumni job board, check out different career paths, and join a group with others who share the same career oriented passions.
Hardeep Chowdhary is a career services and alumni relations coordinator for the School of Public Policy at UMD. Through his position, Chowdhary aids students in exploring career options, developing a career plan and forming relationships with alumni.
When it comes to networking, LinkedIn is an unarguable must, according to Chowdhary. The social media platform that allows for interaction amongst professionals and potential job applicants is essential for accessing a network of connections.
He says that the first steps to setting up a functional LinkedIn is inputting a professional profile picture and clear headline.
LinkedIn Learning, which Chowdhary describes as a “valuable resource” and a “great thing to utilize”, is accessible to all university students and faculty. Simply sign in using your university provided login to unlock a series of webinars, tips, and training courses to elevate your personal LinkedIn account.
Unfortunately, not much time is built in classes and lectures for professors to discuss the importance of networking and unless a student has taken a specific course on making connections, it's likely their knowledge on this subject is fairly limited.
With the advancement of technology, new electronic tools have provided valuable methods of connecting with professionals on a larger scale. It is essential that students preparing to enter the workforce take advantage of these resources.
While it's natural to be hesitant when it comes to making connections, the statute of ‘practice makes perfect’ holds true. The sooner a student begins to take initiative in growing their network, the better their chances are of utilizing a connection.