For this post, I’m going to follow up on Randy’s in more detail, as he discussed the importance of your college’s resources and early hands-on experience. Since networking is about expanding your professional relationships, it really is a useful tool to seek an internship/job. When I first transferred to the university, I felt really overwhelmed with the variety of ways to network and the process of it. Whether you’re still in high school, a freshman at a university, or like me, a transfer student, it’s never too early to learn how to leverage your college’s networking resources. I definitely learned a lot on my feet, but I know I could have made it easier on myself if I knew how to use a few key options earlier.
I definitely feel that student organizations are among the best methods to network for an internship or job. Oftentimes student organizations host presentations from corporations/firms that present their company and internship or full- time opportunities. In finance or accounting, some popular student organizations you may find at your university’s campus are: Beta Alpha Psi, Financial Leadership Association, ASCEND, NABA, ALPFA, etc. Your university may even offer membership in more specialized organizations such as a student chapter in the Institute of Internal Auditors or the Texas Society of CPAs.
These organizations offer great face time with potential employers. If you’re a freshman or sophomore college student, do not hesitate to join one because you may be undecided! If you’re a transfer student like me, join one your incoming semester. You will have the opportunity to ask these professionals questions on what they majored in, why they chose to work in their field, etc. Their insight will be extremely beneficial to you, and they’ll really appreciate that you took an interest in their experiences. I will elaborate with specific networking etiquette in these situations in a later post.
I’ve been to career fairs both at my community college and university. And yes, I have been placed in a job before through this method. Career fairs are not yet outdated, but it’s challenging to make a lasting impression with the recruiters from the firms because they see so many candidates in a day. Also, a recruiter could tell you to apply online, thus making it harder to make that impression. The best way to make a strong impression and a personal connection with the recruiter, in addition to delivering a confident “elevator pitch,” is to do research on the company he/she is representing. Do research beforehand on the companies you’re interested in seeing that signed up for the career fair. It conveys interest and diligence when you talk with them about their companies. After delivering your pitch and talking about the company with them, the recruiter will hand you his/her business card. Send a follow-up email within 48 hours touching on what you talked about and thanking them for their time. Make sure your email is short and to the point! Also, as a polishing tip, wear a suit to the fair, and carry a pen and copies of your resume in a padfolio that has a notepad in it.
School Career Centers
These centers offer so many services and workshops to students, such as interviewing strategies, resume drafting, cover letter writing, LinkedIn practices, etc. These were very informative for me, and I would use them as soon as you’re admitted to college so that you learn these tactics before applying for internships/jobs. Both my community college and university provided these services. Oftentimes, these career centers have an online portal you can drop your resume into for potential employers in partnership with the school to surf through. While it’s not active networking, resume portals can still get you placed.
These three resources are very essential to expanding your network and looking for an internship/job while in school. Some of them may even still be available to use when you become an alumni. Either way, use them wisely!