“It’s important to be kind to everyone you meet and to be open to opportunities—even ones that don’t initially seem like something that exactly fits in with your career goals,” reflects Jesse Cannon (’17). “It’s good to have a focus, but it’s okay to branch out. ” Jesse is currently a stage technician at Walt Disney World. She began working full-time just two weeks ago, after completing an internship she landed by networking with contacts her UVM professor introduced her to.
Reflecting on how she got to where she is, Jesse notes attending job fairs, conferences and job prep events (like Gear Up for Graduation) as key stepping stones. “It was really great to talk to everyone at Gear Up. I got some valuable feedback on presentation, learned about the job search process and really valued having my resume looked at by the resume doctors.” Additionally, Jesse notes, “the LinkedIn and LGBTQA booths at Gear Up were both extremely helpful in approaching the process from the context of the real world outside of the college bubble. Definitely attend if you can, I’m so glad I went.”
Michaela Yarnell, UVM alum (’14) and Legislative Aide for Bernie Sanders, told us she would “not be where [she is] today without networking.” Yarnell began in the Sanders’ office as an intern and successfully moved up to her current position by networking with permanent staff.
The key to networking, according to Yarnell, is “perfecting your elevator speech.” Whether you’re attending a networking event, asking for an informational interview or actually bump into someone in an elevator, be prepared to offer “a succinct and clear thirty-second speech about yourself and your strengths.”
Michaela also recommends having a couple of questions at the ready. Her favorites are: “What are one or two things you know now that you wish you knew when you were an undergrad?” and “Can you tell me about a project you’re working on that would give me a sense of your day-to-day work?” She also stressed the importance of doing some research beforehand, so you’ve got some specific and relevant questions.
Of course, not everyone you meet is someone you’ll want to keep in touch with, but when you do find someone you want to connect with, ask for an informational interview. “People like to talk about themselves,” Michaela notes, so don’t be afraid to ask. When they agree, “go in armed with good questions and then give the interviewer the floor.” And always be sure to follow up! “Don’t just email when you need something, find ways to stay in touch creatively and keep a steady drum beat of communication.”
Ultimately, networking is about creating personal relationships, so it’s important to connect well, and to walk away from the networking conversation with some action items or a new understanding of how you’ll move closer towards your goals.
Attending our Vermont Career Networking Night? Allow us to introduce you to some of our amazing Alumni Networkers who will be in attendance! We asked our alumni to answer a series of questions, and their responses are for you. Continue reading →
Congratulations, you are going to a UVM career networking event and that is awesome! It can be scary and awkward at first, but it’s really a bunch of conversations and opportunities to learn about the world of work from UVM’ers who have traveled the path before you. Continue reading →