You hear it all the time: “The best way to find a job is through networking.” The word networking gets thrown around a lot, but not everyone is really sure how it works, or what the benefits are. The idea is that you have to have connections; you have to “know people”. Personally, I don’t know any “people”, so how am I supposed to network and get a good job? The Career Center is your networking connection. We bring employers to you, and we even bus you to employers! There are constantly networking events going on on-campus, which is why the best plan is to look at our calendar of events and plan out when your next networking adventure will be!
The truth is: you do know people. Even your relatives count, so when you’re at the thanksgiving table, you should be networking! And that doesn’t mean outright asking them for a job, but rather asking if they know people who work in your desired field. Personally, as a psychology major, my family members tell me about their friends who own their own counseling practice, and are totally willing to answer my questions. I’ve even been given internship offers from these friends of relatives. A lot of introverts might be reading this and thinking the idea of approaching someone to ask about connections is a horrible idea, but there are also opportunities for you. Introverts can be great observers and great listeners, which can still help you pick up details about where to find connections. Remember: everyone has connections, and YOU have the means of finding them!
There are several types of networking events available to UMBC students. The biggest and most popular event is the big Career and Internship Fair held each semester. It’s like speed-dating for jobs! But there are many others that students aren’t aware of. For example: we have information sessions where you can meet directly with employers like the CIA this week or Northwestern Mutual Financial Network a few days later. This is an easy and effective way to meet with recruiters and get your name on their good list. We also have our On the Road series, where the Career Center provides transportation to places like T. Rowe Price, the Space Telescope Science Institute, Exelon, and tons more. The series is done for this semester, but it picks right up again in February with a trip to Cisco Systems where students will get a tour of the facilities, as well as an inside scoop on internship and career opportunities.
Even with all of these free and easy events to connect you directly to employers, you might be wondering what to do with yourself once you actually get there. A great place to start before actually meeting people in person is the website LinkedIn. UMBC has several networking pages on LinkedIn including the UMBC Alumni-Student Networking Group that connects you directly to UMBC alumni in your desired field. Also, the Career Center website has a list of Top 10 Networking Tips to help you get started, as well as tools to develop your 30-second commercial. One effective networking strategy - especially if you are still exploring your career interests - is the Informational Interview, where YOU get to interview a professional in your desired field about what it’s like to do what they do, and how you could become successful in the field. Now networking doesn’t seem so scary, right? So get there and get networking!