Networking tips for students

internship

When it comes to finding a job, few things are more useful in your search than a list of eager-to-help and established contacts. For the most part, finding and building relationships with these people takes a lot of work and can be quite intimidating, or even awkward, for those unfamiliar with the process. Regardless, networking is absolutely necessary and extremely beneficial for any aspiring professional, and you can never start too early. Aside from internships and on-campus college career events and fairs, which are obvious excellent networking opportunities, as a college student, you already have access to an amazing pool of contacts that will be willing to help you simply because you are a student.
Here are five tips to help you get started on your networking journey:
1. Join on campus professional organizations
Many schools have professional groups dedicated to specific majors or industries, and these groups are an incredible networking resource. By joining one of these organizations, you’ll have access to a network of working professionals, some of whom you can meet at regional/national conferences and other events thrown by the organization. Check out your school’s clubs and organizations page to learn more about the groups that most appeal to you and relate to your desired career.
2. Reach out to professors
It’s always hard for students to think of teachers having lives outside of the classroom (remember how seeing an elementary school teacher outside of school was newsworthy?), but not only do college professors have lives, they often have quite successful professional ones. Forging a mentor-mentee relationship with a professor in your major, especially one who is still active in the professional world off campus, can provide you with invaluable insight while giving you a strong contact who also has many references within your desired field.
3. Don’t forget about alumni
Your school’s alumni network is larger and more diverse than you could ever imagine, and many of its members are ready and willing to lend a helping hand to a young student from their alma mater. When looking for alums to contact, consider alums working at companies you’re interested in, alums that graduated with the same major and alums working in the capacity you too hope to work. Reaching out to alumni to learn more about the field they’re in and to obtain some pointers on pursuing a career in the same field can never hurt, and you may be surprised by just how eager they are to help.
4. Create a LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn may seem like a weird site for a college student to join, but in reality, LinkedIn is perfect for students. As a social networking site, LinkedIn connects people with similar professional interests and is a great way for you to show off your skills while interacting with established professionals in your desired field. You can join different groups, including your school’s network, which will give you access to more alumni who may not update their listing with the school’s alumni database but maintain a LinkedIn profile. Also: Visit your college career center to get tips on resume writing so you can be sure you’re selling yourself as best as possible through your profile.
5. Use Twitter — professionally
Twitter’s greatest asset is its ability put people in touch, and when used wisely, it can be a fantastic networking tool. Following and tweeting at — in a smart and engaging way — companies and individuals you admire can lead to a Twitter conversation which could blossom into real networking connections. As with LinkedIn, maintaining a professional profile is of utmost importance on Twitter, but be sure to have some personality on it too (no ones like a sterile Twitter account). Share links to pieces that interest you, and offer your thoughts on issues as well. By presenting yourself in a well-rounded and interesting way, you’ll increase your chances of acquiring those much-desired contacts.
Harrison Kratz is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the first online MBA program offered by a school in the top twenty for mba rankings.  A professional speaker, guest blogger, and social entrepreneur, Harrison also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive.
When it comes to finding a job, few things are more useful in your search than a list of eager-to-help and established contacts. For the most part, finding and building relationships with these people takes a lot of work and can be quite intimidating, or even awkward, for those unfamiliar with the process. Regardless, networking is absolutely necessary and extremely beneficial for any aspiring professional, and you can never start too early. Aside from internships and on-campus college career events and fairs, which are obvious excellent networking opportunities, as a college student, you already have access to an amazing pool of contacts that will be willing to help you simply because you are a student

Here are five tips to help you get started on your networking journey:

1. Join on campus professional organizations
Many schools have professional groups dedicated to specific majors or industries, and these groups are an incredible networking resource. By joining one of these organizations, you’ll have access to a network of working professionals, some of whom you can meet at regional/national conferences and other events thrown by the organization. Check out your school’s clubs and organizations page to learn more about the groups that most appeal to you and relate to your desired career.

2. Reach out to professors
It’s always hard for students to think of teachers having lives outside of the classroom (remember how seeing an elementary school teacher outside of school was newsworthy?), but not only do college professors have lives, they often have quite successful professional ones. Forging a mentor-mentee relationship with a professor in your major, especially one who is still active in the professional world off campus, can provide you with invaluable insight while giving you a strong contact who also has many references within your desired field.  

3. Don’t forget about alumni
Your school’s alumni network is larger and more diverse than you could ever imagine, and many of its members are ready and willing to lend a helping hand to a young student from their alma mater. When looking for alums to contact, consider alums working at companies you’re interested in, alums that graduated with the same major and alums working in the capacity you too hope to work. Reaching out to alumni to learn more about the field they’re in and to obtain some pointers on pursuing a career in the same field can never hurt, and you may be surprised by just how eager they are to help. 

4. Create a Linked
In profileLinkedIn may seem like a weird site for a college student to join, but in reality, LinkedIn is perfect for students. As a social networking site, LinkedIn connects people with similar professional interests and is a great way for you to show off your skills while interacting with established professionals in your desired field. You can join different groups, including your school’s network, which will give you access to more alumni who may not update their listing with the school’s alumni database but maintain a LinkedIn profile. Also: Visit your college career center to get tips on resume writing so you can be sure you’re selling yourself as best as possible through your profile. 

5. Use Twitter — professionallyTwitter’s greatest asset is its ability put people in touch, and when used wisely, it can be a fantastic networking tool. Following and tweeting at — in a smart and engaging way — companies and individuals you admire can lead to a Twitter conversation which could blossom into real networking connections. As with LinkedIn, maintaining a professional profile is of utmost importance on Twitter, but be sure to have some personality on it too (no ones like a sterile Twitter account). Share links to pieces that interest you, and offer your thoughts on issues as well. By presenting yourself in a well-rounded and interesting way, you’ll increase your chances of acquiring those much-desired contacts.

Harrison Kratz is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the first online MBA program offered by a school in the top twenty for mba rankings.  A professional speaker, guest blogger, and social entrepreneur, Harrison also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive.

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