Many students graduate and cannot get a job or find opportunities in their field. Networking plays an essential role in this. To network is to exchange ideas, interests, or desires with another person. In the professional arena, networking can mean making a connection to a professional or establishing a mentor in your field of interest. Work and volunteer opportunities allow students to meet professionals in the field; work or volunteer opportunities also give them the opportunity to connect with other students who share similar interests. Being able to hear what others are doing may help you to learn about opportunities or motivate you or other students to seek mentors or other job opportunities. Professors can serve as mentors throughout school and offer tips to help make you successful on the job market. Work, volunteer opportunities, or doing research for a professor will also boost your resume. Essentially, every positive connection you make with someone who is in your field and shares similar interests is networking. Those who are in your network can play a crucial role in your success on the job market and in career roles. See this US News article, 6 Ways to Network While You’re in College, for more information on the importance building your network in college, along with information on how to do it.
Networking as a Student
About Jill Bowers
Jill is a certified family life educator (CFLE), certified family and consumer scientist (CFCS-HDFS), and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Human and Community Development at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She developed the idea for this project when she was working on a research project where she interviewed emerging adults (18-20 year olds). Work and career related content was something about which the emerging adults were most interested in learning more, and many of the issues that were at the center of their daily concerns were those surrounding their career plans and navigating the job market. Although some of the emerging adults in the study were aware of the fact that they could find information on the Internet to answer their questions or that there were resources available through their college or University, most of them could not recall being required to participate in any professional development courses that helped them with career-related skills and most of them suffered from “information overload” related to their Internet searches for information that would help them with their career paths. For example, some of them had been told about the importance of networking (e.g., at Career Fairs), but they did not really understand what this was or how to do it. Therefore, as a result of her experiences working with emerging adults, Jill initiated this project to help FCS students by providing them with information that will help ensure their success as they navigate the job market.