Alumnae Alyson Welch shares her networking experience and advice
What role has networking played in your career exploration and job search?
Networking has played a huge role in my professional development. Four years ago, I moved to Madrid, Spain and had no idea what I was going to do. After a few months, I found a job and two internships through networking—through a friend of my mother-in-law, a college contact and a previous internship supervisor.
When we moved back to Vermont almost three years ago, I was concerned about finding a job. I started identifying companies of interest and looking for contacts at these companies. In three months, I met with four people from Tetra Tech ARD, all referred to me through various contacts (a former UVM professor, a college friend of my husband’s and a friend of a friend that I met at a birthday party.) When a position opened up at Tetra Tech ARD, I eagerly applied and used the knowledge I had acquired through networking to help write my cover letter and prepare for the interview.
Networking can be a bit intimidating. What has helped you network effectively?
People are much more willing to share information and provide advice than to give you a job. If you are just looking for information, it’s easier to ask people to chat.
I’m kind of shy, so it’s a little intimidating to me to reach out to people that I don’t know. I’ve tried to challenge myself and send emails or call people, thinking that it’s always worth a shot. I actually don’t like the word “networking” as it sounds sort of insincere. I prefer to think of it as meeting people and building relationships that are mutually beneficial. Keeping this in mind makes networking – or relationship-building – more organic and, to me, rewarding. People were very good to me during my job search and I’ve tried to do the same now that I have a job.
What advice might you give to a senior who isn’t sure how to begin their network?
Keep your request to meet short and simple. Be prepared and have a list of questions ready. Ask people to suggest other contacts. Remember to thank the person. Keep track of who you have met and follow up from time to time. Try to keep your network alive. Invite the people you have met to connect on LinkedIn
Also, use LinkedIn to identify UVM alums in your field and reach out to them. Check with professors, co-workers and family/friends to see if they might recommend professional contacts. Think about who is already in your network – maybe your aunt knows someone. Never doubt the importance of any connection—even if someone is not in your field, you never know who they might know.
The most important thing to do is just start networking. Once you start, you’ll gain momentum and it can even become fun. Moreover, I am confident that networking is the best way to ultimately find a job – especially one that you’ll like.
Project Manager at Tetra Tech ARD
Want to learn more about networking? Join us for:
Seniors Lunch and Learn: Networking Made Easy!
Wed. Nov 13, 12 pm, the Hub