Students have it hard these days. On top of studying for exams and writing papers, they also need to think about life after college, and which career path they want to pursue. The connections made in college can turn out to be instrumental in post-graduate life and are known to make the difference between the start of a successful or difficult career.
The majority of college students don’t think about building a network. As an educator, your job is to challenge perspectives and provide useful advice that helps students succeed in the future. This advice guides them toward expanding their network. A significant professional network gives a step up on the success ladder to anyone entering the workforce.
Tips to Guide College Freshmen to Network
But, where do students start? Networking skills just don’t develop overnight – they need to be learned and practiced over time. Here is what you need to explain to your students to guide them toward networking.
1. Teach the Importance of Networking
College is no longer just about what happens inside a classroom. The goal of almost every college student out there is personal development and to create a better future. This is why networking is critical. Since at least 70 percent of all jobs available aren’t advertised, a strong professional network will give freshmen opportunities to find a great job outside of the job board.
As long as students have the right mindset, they can take action and easily build a strong network. Other professionals can bring opportunities they wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise and can serve as excellent mentors.
2. Help Students Adopt the Right Mindset
Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Many times, students feel unworthy of a great job position, or simply give up thinking that their experience or age won’t meet the requirements.
This is not the right mentality you are trying to cultivate among your students. College freshman should strive to provide value to others and have confidence in themselves. At this point in their life, they will lack the experience and skills, but the right mindset will get them started in the right direction.
3. It All Starts with the Current Network
To do proper networking, students need to consider their current network. Move students around in classes and different parts of the classroom. Let them get to know each other. This will allow even the shy ones to grow their network, even if it is out of necessity.
The people they’ll meet will be the best base for expanding their network.
4. Encourage Internships and Volunteering
These are great additions to any resume, but are also excellent for one more reason – networking. Encourage freshmen students to take advantage of internships in good companies. This encourages the possibility to meet influential people that can help students with a job opportunity in the future or expand their network further.
5. Give It a Push
Be an example – introduce them to influential people and give them a shot at expanding their network to people outside the classroom. Elementary and high school career days also provide a helpful push – they allow students to learn more about potential careers.
For college freshmen, you can have a similar approach toward helping them to network. Encourage the students to meet with the parents of their peers, especially ones working in their desired career. When they meet with these parents, they can ask to get some useful feedback. Who knows – these new connections can be just the exact thing that helped a student get the new spot in his friend’s parent’s office!
In addition to parents, encourage and introduce your students to college professors and campus administrators. They are an excellent resource, and students often fail to seek it out as such. Sending students to the career administrator office or encouraging them to talk to a college professor can be very beneficial. Not only are professors able to provide advice, but they can also give them a valuable perspective on the future that follows.
Take this advice yourself. Try to connect with your students and do the very same. If you notice an interest in a student in regard to the field you are an expert in, try to help them. They might just turn out to be perfect for a job opportunity you’ll come across one day.
The goal of every instructor is to aid his students. When a student reaches freshman year, professors strive to prepare them for the future in the best way they can. Networking is the key to this!
About the Author:
Olivia is an incurable optimist who always sees the glass as half-full. She likes nature, knows how to enjoy silence and is keen on writing for various websites as well as for an online writing service. Meet her on Twitter.