By Magdalena Guillen
Magdalena Guillen is a senior at California State University, Fullerton, pursuing her Bachelors degree in both Communications (with a concentration in journalism) and American Studies. She recently traveled to Vietnam, where she served on a specialized reporting mission through the university. Magdalena serves on the executive board of several organizations on campus, including: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of CSUF and the Public Relations Student Society of America.
By this time you’ve probably heard of the term “networking.” And most likely, you’ve heard of the phrase, “It’s who you know that gets you there.”
What is “networking?”
To be precise, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines networking as: “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”
In other words, people are creating professional connections that can one day help them with an employment or business opportunity.
Now, let’s connect the term “networking” with the phrase, “It’s who you know that gets you there.”
Now it makes sense! But how exactly do you network?
You’ve probably already made several connections and you don’t even realize it! Internships are a great way to get started. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation! They are your boss and are there to help you.
Take advantage of that connection, be the best intern you can be and standout. Most professionals in return, help interns take that next step in their careers, give great recommendations, and can sometimes turn into a great mentor.
Last but not least, don’t forget to thank them for the opportunity and keep in touch with them after your internship ends. You never know when they have a job opportunity open!
Another great networking opportunity among your future colleagues and professionals are through student organizations. Take advantage of speaker events, panels, and mixers. Talk to students from your own and other schools and get to know your future colleagues. Don’t be shy to talk to speakers after the event and ask for a business card. Most of the time, professionals have a tie with the organization and prefer students of the specific organization for internships and job opportunities.
Also, keep in mind conferences and events from those organizations. It’s a large pool for students and professionals to give advice and connect with others. Don’t forget your business cards!
Don’t have the financial means to attend a conference or event? Contact the logistics coordinator and offer to volunteer. It’s a great way to see first-hand how these types of events work. It’s also a great way to talk to professionals and other students volunteering.
The ultimate goal is to create a genuine professional relationship that will last. Having their contact information is gold, so be wise with it. Don’t be afraid to set up a coffee or lunch meeting.
Informational interviews are also a great way to get to know the professional and learn more about their job. Send along your resume and ask to be considered for any internships or job opportunities in the future once you’ve established the professional relationship.
Even though it’s who you know, remember that it’s what you know that keeps you there. You may have the perfect connection to your dream job or internship, but your knowledge, dedication and hard-work is what’s going to keep you in that position.