Networking is the best strategy to finding a job or internship, yet it is a concept that often sounds intimidating. When you break it down, however, networking is two not-so-scary tasks: building relationships and sharing information. Relationship building with professionals is an essential step in career exploration and planning. Benefits include:
- Learning information about careers and employers to inform your career decisions
- Gaining advice about your own next steps from knowledgeable sources
- Being known to professionals who are then able and willing to connect you to opportunities, other professionals and information
How to Get Started
First, introduce yourself and show genuine interest. Next, check in occasionally with an article or program they might be interested in or an update about your studies or internship. Then, when you contact them later for job search help or advice, they know you and feel good about helping. Check out our Networking Handout (PDF) for more tips.
Networking is mutually beneficial. Offer your help, and share your experiences with others too. And spread the wealth - connect your contacts to each other!
Talking with people who are in a career of interest to you is a way to gather information about a certain career field and a particular position. An informational interview is a meeting in which you can ask about the real-life experience of someone in a field or company that interests you.
These opportunities are invaluable because you gain first-hand information. You will find it helpful when making major and career decisions because you will receive insight as to what it is really like to have a certain career and you can assess your interest in that career. Check out our Informational Interviewing Handout (PDF) for everything you need to get started.
Online Networking Tools
Use LinkedIn to connect with professionals (ask for an informational interview!), follow employers, and search jobs.
Start building your network with alumni. Visit the University of Minnesota page and check out where alumni are working and learn from their career paths. Connect with alumni and ask for advice as you begin entering your career.
Use Peer Messaging on Handshake to find and message students and alumni from the University of Minnesota, and all over the country, about the internships, jobs, clubs and locations you can see on their profiles.
While you're on Handshake, check out jobs, internships, and upcoming events that will advance your career.
Maroon & Gold Network
Search for fellow students and alumni on the Maroon and Gold Network, ask a question via chat or message, and get advice. You can also join a group, contribute to or follow a forum.
Under the networking tab you can use "more filters > help topics" to identify those willing to help you with job shadowing, informational interviews, and a lot more!
MANGO is a free web app that helps you write common networking emails, prepare for conversations with professionals, and manage follow up tasks confidently.
This tool takes away some of the barriers reaching out to professionals via email and on LinkedIn.
Utilize Social Media
Social media is a powerful way to connect with others that share your interests and to exchange information. 92% of recruiters report that they use social media to find and research job candidates. Check out strategies to utilize social media effectively for networking, job searching, and communicating your personal brand.
Tell People About Your Career Plans
Make a list of family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and faculty members that you know, even if they are not in your field. Contact each person, tell them about your career plans and simply ask if they have any ideas or advice for you on reaching your goal. Many students find job leads from this simple question.