Students in College of Human Sciences benefit from networking

Ashley Hunt

When asked about the basics of networking for future careers, most students agree it plays an important role in landing a future job or internship. However, sometimes they don’t realize exactly what kind of possibilities networking can truly give them.

Emily Vonderhaar, senior in biology and nutritional science, is one of those students. Vonderhaar said she didn’t realize the significant role networking has played in getting her the opportunities she has today.

Vonderhaar has future plans to attend graduate school. As she goes through her undergraduate work, she said she knows she needs to get as much experience as possible. This is why she wanted to get a position job shadowing a physician, she said. 

Vonderhaar has established a stable relationship with her biology adviser. In making this relationship, she has learned that her adviser’s wife is currently a physician. Later, when she got the ambition to do some job shadowing, she knew exactly where to go, Vonderhaar said.

“I went in for a meeting with him, and I knew he had mentioned his wife being a physician before,” Vonderhaar said. “So I just went in and asked him if there was any way it was possible to job shadow with her. Turns out, it was.”

Iowa State sponsors career fairs each semester to give students more opportunities to do some networking and to establish connections with professionals. This semester, the career fair for the Colleges of Business, Liberal Arts and Sciences and Human Sciences is scheduled from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Hilton Coliseum.

Loni Pringnitz, director of Career Services for the College of Human Sciences, said she could not stress the importance of attending the career fair enough.

“It’s a free day, full of opportunities to network,” Pringnitz said. “Why wouldn’t a student take advantage of a free day?” 

More than 100 employers are scheduled to be represented at the career fair this semester. There are plenty of opportunities for students in the College of Human Sciences to make connections, but also for students in the other colleges as well. 

When it comes to attending and networking at the career fair, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, Pringnitz said.

“Do not be afraid to approach employers and ask questions. Ask lots of questions,” Pringnitz advised.

Also important, Pringitz said, is to be confident, sell yourself and make yourself marketable.

First impressions are extremely important when it comes to establishing a relationship with a potential employer. Farah Ishaq, junior in hospitality management, has learned this throughout his previous experiences while attending career fairs at Iowa State.

“It is so important to make a solid first impression, which is everlasting,” Ishaq said.

He believes the best way to do this at the career fair is preparation.

Ishaq said he plans on preparing a one-minute speech about himself in order to make a good first impression when talking to potential future employers.

“It’s important to be prepared and to be confident, as well as to know what you are going to say,” Ishaq said.

Besides attending the career fair, there are other ways to establish connections with professionals and employers that will be beneficial to a student’s future. Pringnitz recommends using social sites, such as LinkedIn, as another resource available to network professionally. 

As always with social networking sites, Pringnitz advised students to be cautious.

“Always be careful. When you post something, it’s instant,” Pringnitz said. “It’s free information for the general public.”

Ishaq said he utilizes LinkedIn as a way to make connections with employers and other professionals. Ishaq recommends LinkedIn to other students.

“It’s a great resource to make those connections with employers and to have them in one convenient location,” Ishaq said.

As students prepare for their future careers, they need to remember the importance of networking and the possibilities it can yield. Take advantage of the employers who are taking time to attend the career fair and establish connections with them.

Don’t forget about the other, nontraditional ways to network as well. As Vonderhaar found out, you never know when a connection is going to bring you an exciting opportunity.