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By Elana Goodwin, Uloop
Even though your student is at college to expand what they know, it is also about who they know. College is a crucial time for your child to be meeting new people, connecting and cultivating relationships with them, and growing their networks of contacts. A seemingly unimportant connection could be valuable down the line.
Here are some people to tell your student to connect and network with in college.
Professors are important figures to connect with at college; your student’s personal relationship with their professors will not only benefit them in class but also be helpful in the future. Participating in class, introducing themselves, attending office hours, and otherwise talking with the professor will help your student stand out and establish a better connection with them.
By doing this, the professors will be more likely to serve as references, write letters of recommendation (that actually are specific to your student and are not just generalized as if they do not really know the student), or even help put your child in contact with other colleagues in their field who may be useful during the job hunt.
Not only are professors good connections for your student to make in college, but other staff in the department of their area of study or specific school are also good people to know and network with. These people may have connections with certain companies or know of job opportunities and are happy to put their contacts to good use by facilitating introductions to promising students.
If your child takes the time to build a relationship with the department staff, they will not be just another face coming to ask them for help or to tap into their network without any prior interactions and those staff will be that much more willing to help your student or go the extra mile.
The kid in the sweatpants sitting next to your student in class who is always a minute late? That kid could be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates — or just someone who goes on to have a normal job — and your student never knows which other students will be good to know in the future. Joining clubs, establishing friendships, and recognizing opportunities that will give them a chance to meet interesting and diverse students will help them make connections and grow their network of student relationships.
If your student has a part-time on-campus or off-campus job throughout the school year or is thinking of getting a job, they should know that bosses are some of the best connections to have. They will be able to write letters of recommendation commenting on your child’s work ethic and contributions to the workplace which will impact future employers’ decisions to hire your student.
If your child is not working during the semester, they should secure internships and impress those supervisors so they will be good references and connections to have when they go looking for a job after graduation.
Your student’s academic advisor is another good networking contact for your student to take advantage of and connect with. Rather than your child going to their advisor only when they really need help, by making appointments to just check in more often, talking to the advisors about their career and life goals, and otherwise getting to know them on a more personal and friendly level, those advisors will be more involved in wanting to help your student succeed.
Your student should strive to network with alumni from their college and make connections with them whenever possible. These alumni may be the ones doing the hiring at companies or could push for your student to be hired based on their university. By putting a real face with the name whenever possible, your student can really build relationships with alumni.
Many schools hold alumni networking events and your child should attend those events so they can meet alumni and start making connections with them. Additionally, if your student has a specific career focus they are set on or business they are interested in, they can ask someone in the department if they could be put in touch via email or phone with an alum working in that area and grow their network that way and gain some insight into that field.
Your student should take advantage of all the contacts college provides them the opportunity to meet and connect with. And once they’ve made a connection, they should keep in touch one way or another so that connection stays up-to-date on your student’s life and doesn’t forget about them.
Ultimately, there is no real way of knowing who will be an important connection to have down the line, so the more people your student has in their network, the better off they will be when it comes to securing a job.
Visit uloop.com for more college news and to search for off-campus housing, college roommates, tutors, study abroad opportunities, student travel, online courses, textbooks, jobs and internships for college students, and more.
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