An area that I was not familiar with in undergrad was networking. I didn’t tune out during a lecture or miss an important paragraph about it in required reading, it’s just that professional networking was not the focus of any of my classes’ syllabi or discussions.
On graduation day, I met fellow students who were in many of my classes. Chatting with all of them as I waited to walk across the stage, I had wished I had built a relationship with them outside of the classroom. I realized that we all had the same goals, and some were even already working in the industry I was studying about.
What is professional networking?
Professional networking is a way to build a relationship with people who can help you get to the place you want to go. This is why I wish I had started building my network from the beginning of my courses, as many of my newly-found contacts could potentially help me in the workforce. This could have led me to post-graduation opportunities.
As an online student, you’re already building the relationship with your team and other students during discussion sessions. You are all working towards achieving the same goal. This provides the perfect opportunity to ask for career guidance or insights on an industry because most students are working in or will soon be working in your field of interest. Most importantly, this is an opportunity to connect with someone who may be working for a company that you may want to work for. Referrals are highly regarded by top employers, and this is one way to have someone help you land your dream job.
Professional networking tips
Here are a few professional networking tips I would like to share:
- Get involved with the ASU community- Even though you’re an online student, there are opportunities to network and meet other students in the same area of study, same geographical location and/or that share common interests.
- Develop an online presence- Join the alumni group social page. I am a fan of LinkedIn and have connected with my instructors and other students.
- Know your neighbor- Get to know other students in your class. During the first week, many professors have you introduce yourself. Tell your story on what you do and where you want to go. You will be surprised how many other students have the same goal.