One of the biggest misconceptions in college is that you have to wait to go out into the world to start making connections. There are numerous opportunities on every college campus to create meaningful connections between students and potential employers. But with all the opportunities to network, it can be hard to discern what is the best way to find success. Here are four tips for getting the most out of your opportunities during college, while not losing any of the student experience.
1. Attend every career fair you can.
Many colleges have career fairs catered towards different majors or within different colleges, however they are not limited to just the students who hold that major. Go to every event that you can, even if you think that the companies attending are not specifically the ones you plan to work for. It’s important to branch out and learn a little about different industries. You never know who you will make a connection with!
2. Dress the part.
Getting business casual and professional clothing to fit in that tiny dorm closet can be tough, but it is necessary. Trendy fashion is fun, but for professional clothes it’s best to stick with the basics. Make sure you have a blazer of any color to compliment your favorite pair of slacks or skirt, along with a white blouse. Bonus points if the blazer is pink.
3. Join many organizations on campus.
Your peers can sometimes be the best and hardest people to network with during your time in college. There are many organizations that focus on professional development and academic success, however, even seemingly random organizations can be valuable for building relationships as well. No matter who you meet, aim to make a meaningful connection, especially if they are upperclassmen in your major.
4. Be yourself.
Another big misconception in college is that you have to fake it till you make it to impress other students and potential employers. There is nothing that a potential employer at a networking event will find more unappealing than talking to a disingenuous student. People can tell if you really want to be there talking to them and appreciate an actual interest in both them and their company.
Networking can feel overwhelming, but the biggest takeaway is to not be afraid. Even as a first-year student, go chase those opportunities. You aren’t in high school anymore; those opportunities won’t chase you!
Ashlyn O’Neill is a NeW Spring 2023 Intern.