Building your network through online tools

Networking can be one of the most valuable uses of time in a job or internship search as it allows you to gather information that can help focus your career planning, clarify paths, and learn about opportunities. At its core, networking is about building relationships and exchanging information — and it’s okay that at some points in your career you’re gathering information more than exchanging. As students exploring careers, you should have lots of questions! And getting those questions answered will help you learn about your chosen field(s), tell your story better, and maybe even uncover some internship opportunities. While it may be intimidating to ask someone to meet (virtually or by phone at this time), you’ll be surprised to learn how many people are eager to help. Here are some tools that will help you in the process: 

UVM Connect

UVM Connect is an exclusive online community of UVM alums, students, staff, and faculty. From the platform’s directory, you can find and reach out to members who have offered to provide fellow UVM’ers career support. These folks have already raised their hands to help out and indicated on their profile how they would like to – such as discussing their industry or offering a shadowing opportunity.

Recently, UVM Connect launched a group for students interested in virtual internships to connect with alums who might have the capacity to offer an experience this summer. You can make a post in the group to introduce yourself, and be sure to browse the member list and reach out directly to any alums who work in an industry of interest and have indicated they are “Willing to Help.” Join the group here: Virtual Internships.

For tips on creating your profile, getting the most from your directory searches, and crafting your outreach message, check out the UVM Connect Module on Blackboard


With more than 500 million members, LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking platform. LinkedIn provides a dynamic page for your online professional presence, a wealth of real-world information about careers, and a method for reaching out to members. 

As you build your network on LinkedIn, connect with those you know and trust. Start with friends, family, friends of family, classmates, faculty, supervisors, and mentors. Every connection you make expands your personal LinkedIn network and opens up more possibilities for people you can reach out to on the platform.

Use your UVM community on LinkedIn for support by joining two groups on the platform – University of Vermont Career Connection and the UVM Alumni Association. As a member of these groups (or any professional group on LinkedIn), you are able to reach out to members, whether you are connected on LinkedIn or not. 

The Alumni Tool is one of the most powerful parts of the platform. It enables you to filter the 89,000+ members of the UVM community on LinkedIn by where they live and work and what they do. You can also search by keyword – title, company, skill, etc. UVM’s Alumni Tool can help you identify alums pursuing careers of interest, living where you want to move, and sharing a major or other UVM community with you. For more information on these LinkedIn features and creating a strong profile, check out the LinkedIn module on Blackboard


Handshake is much more than a job, internship, and event resource; it’s a networking tool too! Fellow students can be a wealth of information about their past experiences. From the Students tab, you can find peers from UVM or other institutions who have worked or interned at employers of interest. Handshake allows you to send them direct messages to help you learn from their experiences. You can also read reviews from past interns on employers’ profile pages or pose a question on the Q&A tab about specific peer experiences.

Handshake also enables you to connect directly with employers. From an employer’s profile, you can find contact information for recruiters and hiring staff. Filter the platforms 515K+ employers by industry and location from the employer’s tab. Explore these features and more by logging in to your Handshake account.  

Closing Thoughts

Keep in mind that individuals you are reaching out to might be struggling due to COVID-19. In your initial networking outreach, it’s important to mention the challenging times to avoid your message being inadvertently interpreted as inappropriate or poorly timed. Check out the Career Center’s guide to networking. There you can find potential networking questions and sample outreach messages, which can be customized to your needs and the current climate.

If you have questions about networking, please reach out to Career Center. We’re holding virtual appointments! You can self-schedule a meeting with a career counselor by logging in to Handshake.

Lisa Torchiano
Senior Career Counselor / Pre-Law Advisor

Skip to toolbar