Lately, networking has turned into an intimidating buzzword. In reality, it is really just a fancy way of saying “making connections with people.” In fact, you have been growing your network your entire life. Think about all the people or groups of people who you consider to be part of your “network” (i.e. family, your high school friends, your neighbor, your parents’ work friends, etc). These people may be helpful when you are exploring careers and searching for jobs because they are experts in their own fields.
So, how do you grow your network as an undergrad? Pre-Covid, you might have attended a networking event or social event to engage with working professionals. During Covid, informational interviews have become a popular option for continuing these personal interactions. But, don’t stop there! There’s lots of other ways to connect with people, even virtually.
Here’s a few creative examples:
1. Attend an Event or Panel
The Career Center hosts many events throughout the semester with guest speakers, including BC alumni. These events include panels or “coffee chat” or “fireside chats.”
Action: After the event, reach out to the speaker who you felt inspired by! Usually guest speakers will leave their contact information for students. Send a quick thank you email or ask a follow-up question. This will “leave the door open” in case you want to reach out to this person in the future.
An example of a Thank You email:
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with BC undergrads at the _____ event last night! I really appreciated your words of advice, especially your comment about _____. I am also very curious about _____ field and am currently a __(major/class level)____. I just had one additional question that I would like to ask you. _(ask question)__.
Thank you so much and I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
2. Utilize Eagle Exchange
BC Alumni are eager to meet you! Eagle Exchange is our BC exclusive networking platform. You can message alumni or peers, join discussion groups, or browse our networking resources. With Eagle Exchange, you already have something in common with every person – the BC student experience!
Action: Join a group on Eagle Exchange! Groups are organized by Career Cluster or Identity & Shared Interests. Tip – if you’re looking for opportunities to get involved, check the group discussion board.
3. Join Professional Organizations
Some career industries have professional organizations that allow undergraduate students to join. These organizations provide access to events, conferences, and members’ information, and may require a membership fee.
Action: Research professional organizations for your career interests. Attend a professional event or conference and meet working professionals!
4. Maintain your Network
Making new connections with people takes time and effort; maintaining your network takes even more effort. Keep nurturing the relationships you have with past mentors, supervisors, internship coordinators, etc. Your mentors will love to receive an update about how you are doing. Remember to check-in from time to time and say hello!
Action: Who haven’t you reached out to in a while? Send them an email this week!
5. Pay it Forward
In college, we spend a lot of time asking current professionals for help. But what can we be doing to help others succeed?
Action: When you are off working in the professional world, remember to help out your fellow Eagles! Stay active on Eagle Exchange so students can reach out to you with questions.