The idea of “networking” conjures up a lot of feelings for students – anticipation, hesitation, reluctance – and it’s easy to understand why. We often define networking as a structured, professional, and often transactional activity that takes place at a career fair or similar event.
What if we thought of “networking” as simply connecting with and learning from someone new? With that in mind, here are three reasons why networking might be beneficial to you as an undergrad whether it’s your first year at DU or you’re about to graduate.
- If you’re undecided about your academic or career goals…
…Connecting with others can be a huge help in illuminating different career paths and trajectories. While this is great news for Undeclared students, this also applies to exploring students within a major. As the Career Advisor to students in Mathematics, for example, I often coach students through the exploration process. If a Math major isn’t planning to become a Mathematician, what are some tangible, concrete career paths that still connect to the degree?
This is where learning from alumni can be especially powerful. Many Math majors aren’t initially aware of careers in logistics, operations, project management, and engineering that are not only possible, but attainable, due to the way that the Math curriculum teaches one to think and analyze a problem. The same thing goes for just about any other major, and by connecting with a fellow alum from your program of study, you might discover career paths that allow for you to creatively put your skills and experience to work.
- Are you looking for an internship? Learning from others can help!
Many undergraduate students ask our Career Advisors for guidance on the internship search, and it’s exciting to see students embrace such an important opportunity for personal and professional growth! While searching online for internships isn’t a bad place to begin, you will want to try different strategies as you plan for the summer (or academic year) ahead.
There are so many interesting experiences, leads, and organizations out there that you might not find on the Internet alone. By visiting one of our Connecting DU, Mentor for a Moment, or Dine & Dialogue events, you might learn about a new organization that fits your values and interests. What’s more, there might be alumni who are seeking interns at one of these events! You never know what you might discover by chatting with someone new. Connecting with others isn’t the only strategy for finding an internship, but it’s certainly a useful one to consider.
- If you’re considering graduate school, informational interviews serve as an excellent resource.
Maybe you have an idea of what you want life after DU to look like, and it may include graduate study. Some students choose to apply to graduate school right away, and some plan to take a gap year instead. It might be useful to expand your network and learn from folks who have taken a gap year, or who have experience with the graduate school admissions process. Current, and former, graduate students have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to undergraduate students, and that advice might assist you in efficiently planning for the next step, deciding on which programs to apply to, or if you should pursue graduate school at all. Networking isn’t just about the job search!
We hope you consider building and cultivating connections that can support you for life!