Be sure to check out the previous College Success series articles, College Success Series Part 4: How to Take Exams.
By Ezra Ekman
As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know that matters.” Networking, getting to know people for possible future collaboration or to make industry contacts, is one of the most important aspects of college life.
Evan Kravitz, a career counselor in the Westminster Campus’ Career Success Center, is a proponent of many types of networking while still in college.
“Every job I’ve gotten was because I talked to people,” said Kravitz.
But he insists you don’t have to be the world’s biggest socialite.
“If you feel you’re not good with conversation or you’re a little too shy, we work with students to be better at instigating conversations and keep the conversations going,” said Kravitz.
Kravitz recommends informational interviews, which are meetings with professionals in your desired industry to ask questions and learn more about them.
“The thing about informational interviews is they’re not job interviews,” says Kravtiz. “You aren’t jeopardizing getting a job; you’re just having a conversation with someone who’s career perspective could greatly influence the decisions you make academically and career-wise.”
Online networking is another useful strategy. The Career Success Center hosts LinkedIn workshops to teach students how to build their LinkedIn profiles. Kravitz sees LinkedIn as an excellent icebreaker.
“Before you even meet with someone, you can have an email exchange where you’re laying the groundwork for the informational interview,” said Kravitz. “I heavily encourage students to get on LinkedIn.”
Make sure you have a decent photo for your profile.
“It’s not like Facebook where you can post a picture chugging a beer,” said Kravitz. “If you can’t get a professional headshot, just use a selfie. Those profiles with pictures attached get more views.”
The Career Success Center also offers other benefits beyond LinkedIn workshops. They will help you build and analyze your resume, write a cover letter, and even give you some professional clothing for job interviews.
It all starts now, according to Kravitz.
“Push yourself to come out of your shell,” said Kravitz. “If you’re not a social person or have been labeled an introvert, those aren’t horrible labels. But in college, you really need to start reaching out to people and start networking. College doesn’t last forever. If you’ve done no networking and talked to no one, you’ll be starting from scratch. But if you network, you’ll have several contacts that will keep you in mind.”
The connections you make today become professional contacts you use after graduation. Knowing someone can be the difference between landing an interview or your resume not being seen. Getting social, network, and set yourself up for success.