Whether you are wrapping up your education or training for your future career, deadlines and classwork shouldn’t be your only priorities. One area that you should dedicate time and energy toward is networking contacts along the way. You might think that networking pertaining to your career is something you can do once you are on the job hunt, but laying down the groundwork while you are still in school can make a huge impact in terms of future opportunities.
Follow these five networking tips to increase your chances of success:
1. Build relationships with instructors
One of the best contacts you can make while you are training in your field is with your current instructors. They will be able to guide you through your coursework and also have practical advice for your next career steps. If they are in a similar field relating to the one you are hoping to move into, they can provide reference checks when you do hit the job market. Attend office hours, especially if you are in larger courses where one-on-one time with instructors is harder to come by. Fostering these relationships will make you a more credible resource when you apply for jobs.
2. Look for volunteer and internship opportunities
While your education needs to a priority in order to get the skill set needed for many career paths, if you can gain practical experience as well, this will expand your network. Check in career centers or job boards to see if there are volunteer and/or internship opportunities in your future field. This will get you both training and access to individuals who already working in your field, providing you with contacts for future recommendations as well as assistance along the way.
3. Combine job experience with coursework
While you might feel as though internships and volunteering will give you on-the-job experience in your field of choice, a current or previous job that might not be in your exact field shouldn’t be discredited. Those jobs may be great resources for letters of recommendation to highlight work ethic and teamwork. These are transferable skills for any field, and a current supervisor could be a great resource even if you will be shifting your career goals once you are finished with your education.
4. Connect with classmates
While you might not think your classmates will have a hand in moving your career forward, if you can form connections now with individuals who will be in the same field as you, they can be a great support group for years to come. When you get into your field of choice, you might come to realize it is a small world and contacts you have made along the way in school could easily end up working alongside of you throughout your career.
5. Practice interviewing
Being confident in your field of choice can make all the difference in an interview and practice ahead of the real interview can make all the difference. Utilize your schooling as a platform to set up informational interviews within your field by requesting information from managers in your future field of choice. Under the scope of seeking out information and not necessarily a job, managers and those higher up in organizations you are interested in will be more likely to meet with you to answer questions. These individuals are then added to your networking team as mentors who will hopefully keep you in mind for future job opportunities.
Networking while you are wrapping up educational goals doesn’t need to be hard to do, it just requires efficiency. And, networking doesn’t need to be a scary thing. If you are looking into training programs to move your career forward, contact us to get started.