Your time in college is meant to prepare you for your future career. No matter what field you’re in, there’s one building block that’s critically important as you progress throughout your career—your professional network.
As you work, you’ll make lots of new connections with colleagues, bosses, mentors, and others—and those relationships will benefit you in many different ways.
But you might wonder: Should I bother building a network when I’m only in college? Absolutely! Here are six great reasons to invest time into networking as a college student:
You’ll Learn More About Your Major.
Going to class and studying are important. But getting to know peers, professors, and professionals in your field of study will broaden your horizons and open doors that could help you later on.
Check out student organizations related to your major. These groups often have relationships with employers that might be looking to hire when you near graduation.
You Might Find a Mentor (or Two)!
In college, the point of networking might seem a little nebulous, but it is worthwhile. Older students, professors, teaching assistants are all people you can learn from in and out of the classroom.
Alumni who are now working in the field that you’ll move into one day—and professionals you get to know through student organizations—these are also people who can share with you what they’ve learned. Having mentors early in your career will help you tremendously as you define your own path.
You’ll Build Stronger Relationships with Your Peers.
Look around you. Your fellow students—especially those in classes for your major—could very well become your work colleagues down the road. You have common ground and might be able to assist one another as you establish yourself in a profession.
Ask a classmate to study together—or just get coffee after class to chat about your next steps. Stay connected as you move through college. You just might be able to help each other out someday in the working world.
You’ll Get to Know People in Your Future Industry.
So you want to be an electrical engineer. Sure, you probably know other students with the same major, but putting some effort into expanding your network could introduce you to professionals already in the industry too.
Your professors are a great resource (and should be part of the network you cultivate). Make sure to explore professional associations that invite student members too. These folks might alert you to job openings in the future—or even introduce you to someone who may eventually hire you!
Your Horizons Will Expand.
You might think you know exactly what you want to do, but talking with new people could spark new ideas and possibilities. There might be interesting jobs in your field that you don’t even know exist.
No career is linear, so networking during college can give you a sense of the twists and turns that different people’s careers take—as well as the various market opportunities out there.
Networking Starts Your Job Search Early.
FRCC’s Career Services staff is here to help you look for jobs and internships, but it is wise to cast a wide net. Attend conferences and networking events. Go to job fairs or events that your college puts on with companies and organizations.
You never know who you will meet and what doors will open. It’s never too early to network!
How Can You Get Started?
Here are a few tips:
- Create a LinkedIn profile.
- Visit the career center at your campus.
- Ask the career center staff how to stay up on networking opportunities.
- Get to know professors.
- Get to know your classmates.
- Get involved in clubs and organizations on and off campus.
- Reach out to professionals in your future industry—but thoughtfully. Ask the career center for advice on how to approach this.
Networking is important and something you should definitely start doing in college! Your educational and professional network will serve you well throughout your career as you try to move up, change companies, switch gears, and get involved in shaping your profession.