Score next big break by using power of networking

Jamie Lauten

For students contemplating whether or not to attend the LAS career fair Wednesday, it is important to keep in mind that even for those not looking for an internship right now, the career fair can be great tool for networking.

Chloe Just, freshman in pre-advertising, recently moved into in the college of liberal arts and sciences. Just acknowledges the importance of using networking in finding jobs and internships, but she expressed apprehension about going to the career fair. Just said, “I’m a little nervous to talk to the companies, but I know that it’s crucial to get my name out there and start building my network right away.”

Although the idea of striking up a conversation with a possible future employer may seem a bit frightening, Taren Reker Crow, program coordinator for the Liberal Arts and Sciences Career Services, emphasized that confidence can take you far.

Crow said don’t let a person’s position intimidate you — keep the conversation relaxed and casual, but don’t forget to remain professional at all times.

Crow said when talking with a possible future employer, students should ask intelligent questions and try offering a unique point of view — “something new and fresh.”

The key is to be memorable, Crow said. One small conversation can lead to an infinite amount of networking opportunities.

A good place to discover networking opportunities is online, Crow said. However, she said students looking for jobs should also go beyond just searching online.

“Looking at job postings should only be a fraction of your job search,” Crow said. “You should also be getting in touch with organizations who’d you’d be interested working with, as well as people who might be able to help you whether they are in your field or just have some kind of connections.”

Your advisers and your professors can also be of great help to kick-start your network, Crow said.

Over the years, the importance of networking has grown. With an increasing amount of college graduates each year, students must attempt to gain a competitive edge, Crow said.

Getting a job today isn’t just based on how high your GPA is or how high you score on standardized exams, Crow said. Making even the smallest connection can help you get your foot in the door.

Crow explained how she recently talked to a student who networked his way to an internship by simply striking up a conversation with a person in line at Panera. Although we all might not be so lucky, you never know who someone might know.