Always Be Networking

By: Willow

A common joke in my family is a quote from my one of my sister’s professors: “Network, network, network. Always be networking, unless you’re drunk, or you smell bad.” As ridiculous as this quote is, it’s 100% true. Constant networking is one of the best ways to find jobs or other opportunities that may lead to jobs. Networking is defined by: [to] interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.

So what does that really mean? And how does one become a master networker? For me, I got lucky. I love talking to people and hearing what they do. Making connections is my thing. For others, I know it doesn’t come so easy, and that is why I created this simple guide to constant networking. Enjoy!

 

Networking Meme

The first step to networking is simply being friendly. I used to work with a young man who thought being rude was a good way to get people to remember him, then after they knew who he was he would rebuild his image into being a smart hard working person you would want to hire. WRONG! Honestly, that might be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. You never want to make a first impression of being rude, mean, or conceited, it might make someone remember you but you you do not want to be remembered as a jerk.

Step two is more important than you might think, learn names. It’s so easy to see someone you knew from class, a former professor, or random acquaintance and give them a nod and a little smile. Saying “Hi Leah, how are you?” helps build a relationship a whole lot better than a simple “Hey.” You will be amazed how much striking up what starts as a small talk conversation might amount to.

Step three, say thank you. In some situations this could be as simple as making sure you thank people for small acts of kindness. It can also be writing thank you notes after job interviews, career fairs, and internships or jobs. Think outside the box when you’re finding people to write thank you’s to. Write them to other interns, people you only met a few times, or just people who influenced you. It is never a bad idea to make someone’s day, so spend a little time saying thank you to anyone and everyone who helped you along the way.

Step four, use social media to network. This one is important. We all are children of the internet and that is a part of our world we can’t get away from, so be careful about what you post. If you are under 21 do not post photos of you drinking, come on, that’s common sense. If you are 21 it is obviously legal for you to drink, but remember to be classy. A photo of your Thanksgiving dinner with a glass of wine, classy. A photo of you doing a keg stand at a frat party, not so classy. Social media can be an amazing way to connect with people and network yourself, but it can also be a way to ruin opportunities with easily avoidable mistakes. Social media is an amazing way to post positive things about your life, awards, work you do, scholarships, those are all positive things to post on social media that can help you have a positive reputation.

Step five is the most important, when thinking about business relationships focus on the relationship, not the business. People can tell if you’re being fake, so be real, be kind, and make relationships that count. Talk to people, and honestly care about what they say, know that everyone you have ever met knows something you don’t, so learn from them.

I know this is not a complete and perfect guide to be the best networker in the world, but it’s a good start. I realize that this is a somewhat abstract guide and not a concrete plan, so the most concrete thing I can say is get out and talk to people. That can be face to face, through email, facebook, or thank you notes, it all works as long as there is positive communication. Keep these things in mind in your college years and beyond, and have a great network.

Of Possible Interest: 

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U of M Guidebook and Career Fairs

By: Logan

In our age of technology, our University is finding more advanced ways of providing services to its students. In a previous post last spring, I introduced the University of Minnesota Guidebook app. I talked a little about what you can do with it and how you can get it, but that just scratched the surface of what this app can all do for students. In this post I will go deeper into the app and talk about how you can use it to help yourself prepare for the job fair season. I will explain how to navigate the app and how to use all of the services it provides.

It is now September, and we all know what that means. It is career fair season! During this time we have multiple career fairs students can attend to meet with potential employers and make business connections. Our two largest career fairs are the E-Fest Career Fair (on September 16th) for Science, Computer Science, & Engineering students and Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair (which is on October 8th). Our office works hard to get the word out about these fairs and we encourage as many people to go to them as possible. But simply going to the career fair isn’t enough, students need to know how to act at the fair, what to do to prepare, and what to do after the fair. This is where the University of Minnesota Guidebook app comes in handy. In this app you can search through the different career fairs that are happening soon. You can simply search “Head of the Lakes Job & Internship Fair” and you will find the guide. If you are having trouble finding it, you can come into the Career & Internship Services Office (SCC 22) and scan the code on our posters and it will automatically download the guide for you. Once you have downloaded the guide for the fair you can begin to do some research.

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Before going to any career fair you will want to do a bit of background research. You should know who will be at the fair, who you plan on talking to, and what you will say. The U of M Guidebook app can help you will all of these. The app lists all of the employers who will be attending the fair.

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If you click on one of the companies you can see all sorts of information on the company. It gives the company website; a small description of what they do and who they are; lists of positions available, majors and degrees they are looking for, position types, and even if they  are interviewing on-campus.

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While looking at companies you can add notes. This can be helpful because you can write down any questions you might have for them and/or information you don’t want to forget after you’ve talked to them at the fair. You can also add employers to a “to-do” list (See the above photo where “Add to To-do” is listed at the bottom). This will populate the “Employers to Visit” portion of the app. Then you’ll have a list of the 10 companies you actually want to visit out of the 90 who are at the career fair.

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This app will supply you with all the information you will ever need on any of the companies. This is helpful because you can read a bit about what they do and what they are looking for. This way when you meet the recruiters at the career fair you can display you knowledge of the company and you can already have questions ready for them.

This app has many other great features that can help you out during your next career fair. You can go under the “Connect” section and see who has checked in at the fair. You can also find out when information sessions and on-campus interviews are happening. My favorite part about this app is if you go to the “Prepare for the Fair” section it has pages of tips and tricks for you at the job fair. It has notes on what to do before the fair, arriving at the fair, approaching the employer, talking with the employer, following up, and more!

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This app help you organize your experience and can even give you tips on how to be more professional. I think all students can benefit from this app, even if they are not attending the fair. And the best part about the app: It’s 100% free! So use this revolutionary tool the next time you are thinking about attending a fair!

Of Possible Interest: 

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The Importance of Doing More: Before, During, and After College

By: Michael

Editor’s Note: We’re welcoming Michael back for a guest post! Check out all of his previous work on the blog from when he was a student.

As a recent graduate, I’ve spent some time thinking about what else I want to be involved in either apart from or in conjunction with my career. Since beginning high school I’ve always been what some would consider an ‘over-achiever,’ but I like to take the negative spin off of myself and reduce it to just ‘achiever’ (see StrengthsQuest). Achiever has always been to me the most fitting aspect of my personality as well as what I consider a valuable trait that employers strongly consider when looking for new employees. I’ve mentioned before how important these ‘extra-curricular’ activities are and how they look good on a resume, but there’s more to it that I want to address for you today.

Now think to yourself, what are the benefits of being involved in more than just school and work? Being an active participant in volunteer work, community programs, sports, and student organizations are all beneficial activities anyone can find an interest in if they find the right group or cause. Below are my top reasons for becoming more involved:

You develop applied skills in a way you just can’t get sitting at a desk

From my experience, being involved in political organizations and leadership roles both early on in high school and during college helped me develop communication and public speaking skills better than I ever could have developed from the one public speaking class I was required to take my freshman year of college. I used to be the kind of person who was deeply terrified of speaking in front of a crowd. My junior year of college I wound up giving policy recommendation and testimony to a congressional audience in Washington D.C. during an internship that required a combination of public speaking and research skills that I primarily got from being involved in extra-curricular activities such as MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group) and SLC (Student Legislative Coalition).

Doing More

You have unique opportunities to network and connect with others in your field of interest

During my last year at UMD, I became (and am still presently) involved with the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce College Connect program. This program matched me to a mentor in my field or area of interest who I meet with on a regular basis and attend the college connect events which involve activities such as volunteer work, networking, and professional skill development. I would strongly recommend to anyone approaching their graduation to consider joining this organization or something similar. The program and my mentor have given me some of the most direct and applicable advice and tips for post-graduation than anywhere else. This is a program that transcended my completion of my student career at UMD and has also sparked my interest in becoming a member of the Chamber in the near future to be more involved in my community.

The work is fulfilling and can (and often does) involve helping others

One of the things that first attracted me to certain extra-curricular activities was the opportunity to volunteer and do charitable work that helps others. Before graduating high school I was awarded a medal for volunteering 130 hours of my time to volunteer work my senior year of high school. I continued through college working in programs that raised money to help the homeless and raise awareness for other social issues such as LGBT rights and issues relating to foster youth and adopted youth. The most fulfilling part is getting to meet the people you help and hearing their stories. I learned during my time in D.C. how strong people can be and how meaningful it is to be a part of the bigger picture.

You can better develop and understand your own interests

I discovered I wanted to be an accountant because of my busy-minded nature, knack for number crunching, and interest in the business/economic side of life in general. I came to this conclusion based on an amalgamation of experiences all developed through extra-curricular activities that I have been a part of for years. I’ve mentioned before the importance of knowing yourself when presenting yourself during an interview and here, in this blog post, are the best tips I can give on how to get there.

Still not convinced? It’s not surprising. Most people grow up to where you’re at today being told countless times the importance of school and good grades, but sometimes people forget to talk about doing more than just that. Maybe it’s because when it comes to work, many people don’t like to think of doing ‘more,’ but it is that precise reason why doing more is such an indication of ambition and drive that employers rank it one of their top reasons for offering an interview to a candidate. Doing more is an intriguing quality that anyone has the capability of achieving. Think about how easy that interview will go when you have all that experience added to your background to talk about! This strategy has helped me and countless others I know and have worked with at some point in time. With that in mind, also know that doing more doesn’t have to end in college. Transitioning into your career or into post-graduation provides so much more opportunity at a much broader level so why not start now while you can still get your feet wet?

Read Michael’s other posts

Benefits of Job Shadowing

By: Ashley

You hear so much about internships, part-time jobs, and volunteering as ways to learn the skills you need to further yourself in the world of full-time employment after graduation. A less talked about option is that of the job shadow. You might be thinking that job shadowing is like bring your child to work day stuff, but it is so much more. Job shadowing helps provide the answers to the big questions like “can I see myself doing this as my career?” or “what does it really take to make it in this field?” It helps give a realistic view into all the things involved in the job you’re shadowing. You can observe the job characteristics, responsibilities, and environment and see how they match up with your personality and your ideals. You get to learn firsthand what it takes to make it in the field from the people who know it best, working professionals. I chose to write about this topic because I had the wonderful opportunity this past summer to job shadow in the St. Mary’s Pathology Lab. I gained insight and learned so much that I thought I would share my process of getting my position. My situation started out as a want to volunteer and grew into something so much better.

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As many students know, you can volunteer at St. Mary’s Medical Center to get some hands-on experience. This is why I went to their volunteer services and sat down with Joy Miller to discuss where in the hospital would be the most beneficial for me to volunteer. It became apparent, to Joy, early on in our discussion I wanted to work in a lab and that volunteering in the lab would be the best fit; unfortunately they didn’t have volunteer positions in the laboratory. I told Joy I would be content volunteering anywhere in the hospital but I expressed how amazing it would be to see the inner workings of the lab at St. Mary’s. Seeing how invaluable it would be to get experience in the lab Joy went out of her way to set up a meeting with the lab director and before I knew it I was job shadowing in each department of the lab over the course of the summer. I gained insight into the environment of the lab and I also got to experience the types of test that are run. I got to see the process of how the sample goes from patient to lab to doctor. It really enforced my dream of becoming a medical laboratory scientist. I also met and connected with some wonderful professionals in the healthcare field and even acquired a recommendation out of it that I think was essential to my acceptance into my post-certificate program at Mayo.

As you can see, job shadowing has many perks alongside gaining experience. So now you may be wondering how you too can get involved in job shadowing. I think a key step in the job shadowing process is conducting an informational interview with the employer, like what I did with Joy. I think the informational interview is essential because it allows you to get to know the employers in a low stress atmosphere and build on your ever growing network of contacts who could help you get a job in the future. Of course in order to arrange an informational interview with a contact you need contacts and that is where networking comes into play. Ask your fellow peers about places where they have shadowed and networking events they’ve attended. If you are interested in finding and setting up a job shadowing position I suggest setting up an appointment with a career counselor to discuss and explore your options and to look at our career handbook where there are helpful sections on both networking and informational interviews.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Finding a Networking Style by Expanding Possibilities

By: Sherrill (Career Counselor/Guest Poster)

Often when people think of networking they picture an evening event with 200 or so students and professionals mingling in business attire while balancing plates of intriguing looking hors d’oeuvres. This is one approach, and there are a variety of options for students to expand their network, learn about interests, and seek out new experiences. We are here to help you prepare for large scale and smaller scale networking opportunities!

Networking Possibilities

Here are just some networking suggestions, and you are encouraged to find ways to network that make you feel comfortable and boost your confidence.

Attend a speaker presentation or information session on campus. Introduce yourself to the people seated around you. Introduce yourself to the speaker afterwards and ask a relevant question.

Get to know your classmates. Fellow students may hear of opportunities that are not a fit for them, and they are more than happy to share the information. Do the same for others when you hear of opportunities.  

Take advantage of professors’ office hours. This is a time to get to know professors outside of the classroom. Professors may be more inclined to write letters of recommendation for you down the road if they know you outside of the classroom.

Build an effective LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn Drop-In hours (every Thursday, 2-4pm, in SCC 22) are available for assistance in developing a LinkedIn presence. Create a positive, consistent social media presence across several platforms.

Complete informational interviews. Students repeatedly report that these are helpful. Informational interviews allow a student to sit down with a professional in a field of interest and learn more about the career path prior to seeking out internships or jobs.

Attend job & internship fairs early. Attending job & internship fairs as a freshman or sophomore has advantages. Employers remember students who express interest in a company multiple times.

Invite a connection or potential connection out for coffee. Learn about their career path and share your career interests. This can be a casual yet still professional way to develop connections.  

Networking is more genuine and productive if it takes place before the individual actually needs something. Words of advice: start early!

Of Possible Interest:

College Connect: Interviewing and More

By: Glen

After meeting my mentor at the kick-off event, despite my knowledge that they have had numerous experiences in fields that I am interested in, I was still inexplicably skeptical that I would be able to work the relationship in a way that would be educational and positive for the two of us. I knew I needed to keep an open heart to make this work. With this in mind, I jumped into my next two meetings with my mentor to figure out some goals.

Lunch is Good

At the kick-off event, my mentor and I had scheduled a time to meet up for lunch before the next College Connect event. As it turned out, this was a spectacular idea. My mentor showed up with numerous ideas to involve me in their work process, so I can learn the different aspects of the positon. What better way to learn about a specific job in a specific environment than to get in and observe? Besides discussing ways to make this a real mentor/mentee relationship, we were able to talk about common interests. I found out that my mentor has spent time in the past participating in theatre, as I do currently. Overall, I was glad I gave our relationship a second chance, as my mentor and I were beginning to relate to one another much more easily.

Passionate Interviewing

Upon arrival to the second College Connect event (hosted at UMD this time) many of the mentors and mentees were confused as to what was going on that night. Originally, we were supposed to have a dining etiquette night, but our event registration was titled “Speed Networking,” which was what we did at our first event. With a skeptical crowd piled into a lecture hall, the organizers of the College Connect program surprised us with a good lesson.

To open the event, we watched an advertisement that showed a company doing a “normal” interview with people, before switching it up and creating an interview that went through things such as the interviewer collapsing, a fire drill, and a person jumping from a building into a firefighter trampoline. The oddities and invalidity aside, the advertisement has a point. Good interviews should leave the employer with knowledge about the person they interviewed. Will the person fit in with the goals and vision of the company?

With those ideas in mind, we spent the rest of the event talking with our mentors and other mentors about our “brand.” What are you passionate about? Can you effectively communicate that passion to a stranger? After discussing passions, we took turns practicing listening skills. We were only allowed to ask questions, and not allowed to insert any comments. These communication practice sessions were useful tools to discover the different aspects that go into an interview. The person being interviewed can control the conversation to play into their strengths by answering questions in a way that directs questions toward your passions.

So far, I feel the College Connect program has been a successful endeavor. I have learned a number of lessons about myself, including the willingness to open up to someone outside of my age range, communicating effectively, starting random conversation, and discussing strengths.

Of Possible Interest:

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National Career Development Month

By: Ashley

Hey everyone, so this month, the month of November is a special month here at Career & Internship Services. November is officially National Career Development Month. This year, National Career Development week is November 10-14 and National Career Development Day is November 12th, and we have some great networking events planned. National Career Development Month is a celebration created by the National Career Development Association (NCDA) who hope to inspire and empower the achievement of career and life goals in everyone.

This year in our office we set a theme for this development month, that theme being “Imagining Career Possibilities”. I want to also mention that if you stop by Career & Internship Services during the month of November and share your “Career Possibilities” you can enter into a drawing for some cool prizes! As for the events going on this month there are a few big ones.

National Career Dev Month 2014

November 12th there is going to be an open house in our office (SCC 22) from 11am-1pm and everyone is welcome to attend. November 19th there will be a networking event held in the Multicultural Center from 11am-1pm and everyone is welcome to this event as well. This event will provide you with the opportunity to practice networking, which is great if you’ve never been to a networking event before. Later that same day at 5:30pm the Duluth Networking Night event will be held at the Greysolon Plaza Ballroom in Downtown Duluth which is just a fun, informal gathering, where UMD juniors and seniors can mingle and network with professionals. Practice your networking skills, hear professionals’ career experiences and advice, and find out about the great opportunities in Duluth. For this event it is asked that you RSVP by the 12th.

I encourage everyone to put themselves out there and attend these great networking opportunities during National Career Development Month. After all, aren’t we all in college for that exact reason, to develop ourselves and our skills so we can step out into that professional world feeling confident. I also encourage everyone to think about their career possibilities, everyone has them. For me, it’s the possibility of becoming a medical laboratory scientist, for some it could be to become a counselor, an engineer, a social worker, or an actor. Everyone has dreams, and those dreams are potential careers. Have a great National Career Development Month, Bulldogs! As always, if you have questions about your own career path there are career counselors in our office who would love to help you out.

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College Connect: Kick-off Reflection

By: Glen

This year, I have am a participant in the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce’s College Connect program. The Chamber created this program to connect leaders in the Duluth area with the young, ascending college students nearby. The hope is the connection and development of the students and mentors will keep the students in the area after graduation. I will be reporting on my experience, giving my thoughts on the events along the way!

Meeting my Mentor

Of course, I had no idea what was going to happen upon arriving at the first networking event of the series. The only thing I knew was I had a mentor, and I was going to meet this mentor.

My mentor turned out to be someone that has worked in a wide variety of places, taking a path that is quite relatable to all of my current career ideas. In fact, my mentor even progressed thorough careers in the same order I am considering. This was incredibly surprising, as my interests are in recruiting, hiring, training, admissions, academic advising, and career counseling. My mentor has had experience in Human Resources, Admissions, Registrar, and Academic Advising. The best part of my mentor having experience in related fields is how many other mentees at the event were finding this to be true with their own mentors. Two friends of mine who are fellow mentees echoed the same pleasant surprise I had when I spoke to them after the event.

Networking Practice

The actual event itself was not just a time to sit and talk with your mentor; the coordinators mixed everyone up and forced us to have conversations. We played two different networking games to teach people the laid back nature of talking to anyone, even strangers.

We first entered a two-ring circle, with the mentors on the outside and the mentees on the inside. It was a musical chairs type affair, with the two rings moving in opposite directions. When we were told to stop, the mentor and mentee across from each other were given a chance to discuss a simple topic. Next, the entire group participated in a game where the room would be our country, and we would walk to different places that made sense for the given question asked of us. For example, one question asked was, “Where do you remember a vacation from your childhood taking place?” The group would then chat among the people who were nearby, sharing their experience.

These games proved to be more than just a fun time. There is a good lesson for anyone trying to make connections in the world: Do not be afraid to talk about yourself, your ideas, and your passions. It is much easier to remember someone if there was an interesting conversation involved, versus just a name and a major.

Of Possible Interest:

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Where Does It Work to Network?

By: Michael

As you may have read in my previous post about how to network, I discussed some basic tips on how to conduct yourself at your first event. Today, I’m going to talk specifically to UMD students and provide some suggestions on all of the places and events you can network at, in case some of you are still in the dark. I’m sure by now you’ve heard repeatedly how important networking is or even already heard numerous tips about how to succeed at it outside of my own advice, but once you are given that info, it seems to be that everyone expects you to find out where to go on your own from there. To prevent that, I have listed some common networking areas as well as some upcoming opportunities that I think all of you should consider when dipping your toes in the networking waters.

where to network

Alumni Networking (November 19!)

A great upcoming opportunity to network for UMD students is the upcoming alumni networking event downtown at the Greysolon Plaza. This is a great chance to meet with other UMD graduates and gain some insight on what other students did to get to where they are today after graduation. In addition to having a bit more to relate about, this event is a little more casual and is a great time to practice networking for the first time.

Job Fairs

Although the bigger job fairs have come and gone this fall, there are still opportunities in the spring to attend.  Job fairs are great for networking because it puts a large number of employers all in one spot and they are all there to talk to you students. Theses types of events can be a bit more challenging networking-wise, so I would encourage any of you to attend our workshops about job fair success and networking.

Information Sessions

A lot of companies who recruit on campus tend to have their own information sessions outside of campus. These are a great opportunity to network with employees at a specific company who you might be interested in working for. They tend to be more laid back than job fairs, with most supporting a casual environment. If you would like to get your foot in a door with a company, this is one of the first steps I recommend taking. Make sure to collect business cards, have conversations with as many people as you can, and don’t forget to follow up afterwards.

Join On Campus Organizations

Many student groups offer numerous opportunities to network with people working in particular fields or areas of interest. Groups like Management Club and Accounting Club provide many opportunities to meet recruiters and firms. Also, organizations that are more active on campus-related issues tend to have great connections to the greater Duluth community. Determine what you are interested in and consider joining some extra-curricular groups on campus, it looks great on your resume and provides lots of direct networking opportunities.

Use Your Connections

Family and friends are great resources when looking to expand your network. Some of you may have heard of the 6 steps of separation and have used it to some degree. Basically the theory is that everyone in the world is connected in six or fewer degrees of separation, or that you know anyone through a friend of a friend of a friend… etc. Keeping this in mind, your networking opportunities increase massively by integrating yourself into other people’s networks as well. I have found this to be one of the most beneficial forms of networking that I have experienced to date. It is really easy to use this method to begin your networking process as you can start with familiar faces and build your way up. Start asking your friends and family about anyone they know that might be interested to talk to you about your career goals and what you are looking for in terms of employment. A meeting over coffee or lunch has always seemed appropriate for this type of networking and best of all, you have a one-on-one interaction and little distraction such as what the setting is like at a job fair.

Above are just a small number of places that you can network at, but what I have to tell you is that when you really find yourself in the career world, the best professionals know and will tell you that networking never stops and that there is an opportunity for it in even the most seemingly unlikely of places. Take a look at this article and you will find that you may find connections anywhere, so building these skills early on is crucial.

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Referrals: A Boost to Your Career Search

By: Michael

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know?’ Check out this article by CNN, where they focus on this very question. In this article, CNN takes the time to explain that it isn’t just who you know, but that there are a variety of other factors that come into play, such as how you know them, how well you connected, and whether they are a respected member of the organization. After my previous internship experience, I have been spending a lot more time networking and relying heavily on the ‘who you know’ aspect of things. It has helped me narrowly define the companies and careers I want to apply for as I approach my graduation this December.

Referrals

A perfect example is one that occurred very recently. I had met with a good friend of mine whom I went to high school with and inquired about his position as a credit analyst and that I was graduating soon. He was dismayed to tell me that if only I had asked him a couple months prior, there was a position open that I could have applied for. This discussion occurred at the beginning of the summer, but two months later I received a message on LinkedIn from his manager notifying that my friend had referred me and asked if I would send my Resume. I scheduled an interview that next week.

Another example was when I was applying for an internship through Minnesota Power. Although I did not receive the position, I met a lot of valuable contacts through referrals from one of my classmates who had interned there previously. I ended up going through informational interviews and even getting a referral for the position.

The most important lesson I take from this idea of ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ is that it is important to connect with others while networking, and I mean really connect. The more you get to know a potential reference while networking, the more valuable and viable their recommendations of you will be. I know that many of you will probably be attending the upcoming job fairs this fall, and my advice to you is this: take some time to research exactly which companies you are interested in talking to, don’t try to rush from table to table, take as much time as you can at an individual company’s table and make sure to get business cards to follow up with potential contacts. Be open, talk about your interests, why you want to work for the company, etc. Try not to focus on meeting the most contacts, but focus more on having a pool of contacts that have a much clearer idea of who you are. That’s how you will get to that next step towards your dream job: The Interview.

Of Possible Interest:

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