Year after year, students begin their undergraduate careers thinking that obtaining a college degree will be enough to land a solid job. However, securing a job is just as much about who you know as it is what you know.
With the competitive job market, college students need to use every resource available to them to reach success in a career. A big part of that is building relationships with professionals in their desired field of work.
A good way to gain networking opportunities is through internships, professional conferences and professional organizations. According to Southern Miss Career Services, students involved in professional internships, student groups, volunteer work, on- campus jobs and memberships in professional organizations not only show potential employers that they are motivated and capable of successfully juggling various responsibilities, but also offer a wealth of opportunities for networking.
“I am a perfect example of how networking can get you a job,” said Tonya McGee, marketing specialists of Southern Miss Career Services. “Each job I have received has been a direct result of building relationships and networking. I got a part-time job, internship and full-time jobs directly because of networking. As a matter of fact, I have never gotten a job that didn’t involve some sort of connection.”
According to a recent article from the About Careers website, colleges around the country offer students more opportunities to network through interacting and building relationships with professionals for career development assistance. Networking offers students an advantage, because a personal connection can be made prior to seeking a position.
One recent example of a networking event at The University of Southern Mississippi is PRSSA & PRAM on the Patio, in which the Public Relations Student Society Association (PRSSA) invited professionals from the Public Relations Association of Mississippi’s Pine Belt chapter to network on the patio of College Hall. This event allowed students to get to know professionals and ask them about current best practices in public relations as well as general issues with the job search.
“Networking with local professionals is a great way for students to launch their careers,” said Jasmine Tate, graduate student and president of the USM PRSSA chapter. “My involvement with PRSSA has significantly enhanced my confidence in speaking with professionals from entry level to top management. I will always be grateful for the experiences, knowledge and relationships I have gained through PRSSA.”
The About Careers website offers several ways for students to make the most of networking events including being prepared to offer some information about yourself through a practiced “elevator pitch” and by asking relevant questions you have prepared in advance. In addition, bring business cards if you have them and follow up after the event with everyone you met. These practices will help you make the most of any networking event even after you graduate, because networking does not just benefit students.
For professionals, networking with the upcoming generation of professionals is also beneficial.
“As a professional, I attend networking events with students because I enjoy mentoring and the opportunity to learn from the younger generation,” said Catherine Lott, communications coordinator for the DuBard School for Language Disorders and PRAM member. “I get fresh perspectives on issues and can look to see who the up and comers are in my career field.”
For more information regarding networking, visit USM Career Services in McLemore Hall 125 on the Hattiesburg campus or at https:// www.usm.edu/career-services.