Commencement is quickly approaching and soon you will graduate from Simmons with a degree that has prepared you for your life's work. In terms of forging a successful career, who you know is almost as important as what you know, and over the years, I've learned the importance of networking.
Don't cringe. Think of it more as chatting with friends, because at its most natural, that's all networking really is. I teach a publishing overview course, and I like to spend the last class helping students find a job.
Here's some advice that has worked for me, and many of my now-employed students.
- 1. Create a list of everyone you know, and everyone they know.
- This is the start of your network--it is, ideally, a trusted list of people who have a vested interest in you. People who like you, and want to see you employed, fed and happy.
- 2. Decide where you want to live.
- You will network during the entire course of your career, and one job will lead to the next. Think about where you want to settle and go there. It's more difficult to find a job later in a new city where you are not connected.
- 3. Use your college's alumni network.
- You share a common bond with other alumni--you ate in the same cafeteria and played Frisbee on the same quad. You're bonded for life. When I graduated, I called all of my college's alumni who worked in publishing in Boston. The first one who called me back, hired me. (OK, truthfully, I interned for free for six months and then he hired me. But the moral of the story is, alums help alums... eventually!)
- 4. Professors want to help you, too.
- I take great pride in helping my stellar students connect to others in the industry who can help them. Assuming you worked hard in class and forged a good relationship with your professor, seek them out for career advice. They've been there.
- 5. Call anyone who ever said, "Call me, I'll help you."
- In fact, make a list of these people, and call them. Include relatives, neighbors and your parents' friends, and your friends' parents' friends, on this list. You never know who will know someone in an industry you'd like to be in if you don't ask. You have to ask.
- 6. Identify 10 companies where you think you'd like to work.
- Learn more about them. Read their publications. Read their website. Get in touch with them and express interest--through HR, or even better, through a shared connection.
- 7. Request informational interviews.
- These days, it's rare that you'll get a job from a job posting. It's better to take that list of dream jobs and reach out to those folks for informal chats. They might not have a position for you right away, but they will eventually, and they'll remember you.
- 8. Look online.
- Check the website of the company you want to work for and see who you might be connected to. Sign up for automatic job feeds from sites like indeed.com.
- 9. Once you have a job, continue to build your network.
- Even Reid Hoffman, the founder of the social networking site (and more often these days, job networking site), LinkedIn, says it's important to get out and meet people face to face. If there's a work-related after-hours event, attend. Keep in touch with your peers who are working elsewhere in the city. Make plans to get together regularly and share experiences. Use each other. And maintain contact with everyone you meet during your internships. You will work with these folks again.
Remember, every one of us has been in your shoes. They're shiny and new. Impressive, even. Get out there and greet the world in them. It's time to put your newfound smarts to work!
See where Simmons grads are most likely to find employment: Top 5 Careers for the Class of 2011.
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