Connecting with professionals can be an informative, eye-opening, and potentially vital part of your job search process. Maybe that is why many find it to be so daunting! Finding out more about the networking process and forming a strategy with a career counselor will help calm your nerves and maximize the results.
What is networking?
Networking is the ongoing action of building community around professional and academic interests. In networking relationships both parties are able to share information to help each other explore various facets of career development. As a university student you have a lot to share and capacity to help others whether that may be supporting students in years below you, or sharing with a senior employee of your desired industry what innovative concepts you are learning in class.
Ways to network
When beginning to assess your network, start with who you already know - your family members, friends, former teachers and coaches, and previous and current supervisors. Share your career goals with them and don’t hesitate to ask if they know of any resources, have advice, or connections that would support your career goals.
Fairs and events
As a University of Minnesota student you have access to numerous career fairs where dozens of employers attend who are interested in meeting students like you! Career fairs are great networking opportunities. The University of Minnesota also has hundreds of student organizations that may host career events and networking opportunities, be sure to find student organizations associated with your major and career goals and engage with their email lists, or social media to be informed of such opportunities. Your college career centers also host alumni panels and networking events throughout the year, you will find these events posted on Handshake.
When beginning the process of networking, it is a great idea to reach out to University of Minnesota alumni. Having the shared experience of attending the University of Minnesota is a great form of common ground to start a conversation.
|Maroon and Gold Network
|Free, online platform connecting current students and alumni.
|UMN Alumni Association
|Alumni networks by school, affinity, and location.
|LinkedIn Alumni Page
|Easily search for UMN alumni.
LinkedIn is a largely free social networking website solely for professional purposes. It is a great resource for expanding your professional network, learning more about companies, and potentially also for searching for career opportunities.
Get Involved and Help Others
Networking isn't one way, and it's not all about connecting with established professionals. Invest in your peers, get actively involved in student or service organizations, and remember that you also have good advice to give! You may be surprised how this can come back to benefit you later in your career.
Find a mentor
A mentor is someone in your career field who can act as your cheerleader or guide. They provide insight, advice, and feedback based on their experiences in the field. The University of Minnesota has some of the best formalized mentor programs in the country.
- Providing purposeful career-related connections and advice for students, alumni, and the University of Minnesota community. Brought to you by the University of Minnesota Alumni Association.
- College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences students connect with alumni and friends of the college who work in their areas of career interest.
- This program gives students additional insight into the discipline and practice of architecture and landscape architecture, clothing design, graphic design, housing studies, interior design, and retail merchandising.
- Mentor program provides one-to-one matches between students and University of Minnesota alumni and other professionals in the student's areas of interest.
- The alumni board connects SJMC juniors, seniors and graduate students with professionals willing to share their experiences.
- Introduces first-year pharmacy students to professional career opportunities under the mentorship of pharmacists working in a variety of practice and business settings.
- This program matches students with alumni and other practicing professionals who share their interests.
How to Connect
Your career office will be able to help you:
- Learn networking protocols (follow up is key!)
- Connect with alumni and professionals in your field(s) of interest
- Conduct an informational interview
- Prepare for and get the most out of career fairs and networking events
MANGO is a free tool that coaches you through networking, with tips on writing the first email along to preparing for conversations and managing follow up.