Networking: A Student Perspective

Shadow of paper people

Wondering how other students are approaching networking? Lily Fedorko shares her journey. She’s a senior Religion major and like many in the Class of 2016 – she’s looking for her first full time job.

1.You, like many UVM seniors, are currently looking for a full time job, how are you approaching networking as part of that search?

I am talking to as many people as possible. I was terrified of networking until my first informational interview. I then realized that everyone is eager to help someone who is just getting started. I am as terrified of the “real world” as the next senior, but I keep myself sane by knowing that I am taking action through meeting people. I also place myself in circumstances where I may run into someone I have already met in the field. For example, I am interested in arts administration. I met with the director of an arts program in Burlington and then promptly attended one of her events. I wanted to get in touch with her again and to show my interest in her programming.

2. Networking can seem uncomfortable or inauthentic at times, how do you make it work for you?

I am open and honest with my expectations and I am curious about others’ career paths. I offer to buy the person coffee. As a Midwesterner, I am petrified of asking people for things without being able to reciprocate. (Though, more often than not they have insisted on paying because I’m a “broke college student”). I come with specific questions.  I never ask for a job, but do ask for career advice. And it’s not inauthentic to ask someone about their story: how they got their current position or their first entry–level job.  I also walk away with a referral for the name of the next person that I will contact for an informational interview.

3. How are you tracking and following up on your networking efforts?

I have a spreadsheet with people sorted by name, career path, who introduced us or how we’re connected, and info on our last contact. It’s easy to forgot that so-and-so knows so-and-so. I look at my spreadsheet and refresh myself regularly on these connections when I know I will see them. I have also been sending thank you notes and offers to “actually” buy the coffee next time!

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