Whether commencement is on the horizon or you’re on the lookout for a summer job, students should keep in mind that networking is a key ingredient in finding success during the hunt for employment. “Networking itself is a skill, like anything else,” said Lisa Sanders, an Internship and Career Center program coordinator. “80 percent of jobs are found through networking. By definition, networking equals job search.”
Sanders recommends going to the ICC, joining alumni associations and getting into professionally-focused social networking sites like Linkedin – a source through which students on the job hunt can often discover unadvertised job openings.
Doing research on recent graduates or what alumni connections exist within organizations you’re a part of is also a way students can increase their chances of unearthing new job opportunities, Sanders said.
“If you have a common organization connection, the investment in the relationship is going to be that much stronger,” she said. “The connections are there, it’s just a matter of uncovering or thinking to ask.”
The Cal Aggie Alumni Association boasts a myriad of opportunities for students to network with graduates. May is “Take an Aggie to Work Month”- a program that allows students to shadow someone employed in their field of interest to observe a typical day on the job.
With the exception of the Aggie Pack, the Cal Aggie Alumni Association is the largest club on campus.
“Only 200 students are really active, which is too bad because it’s something to take advantage of,” said Jane M. Eadie, director of programs for the association.
She said the key function of the group is to network with alumni.
“[Students] can ask questions they want, find out about alumni job searches, hone their skills and focus on what they’re interested in doing,” Eadie said.
Eadie also recommends networking as a major source of the job hunt.
“Even with the best skill set in the world, there’s something to be said about who you know. Networking is an extension of the relationships you make, and you start them in college.”
The Association consists of 192,000 UC Davis alumni, 98 percent of whom live in California. Over 48,000 members live within a 50-mile radius of Davis, making for a multitude of local connections that students could potentially make.
Eadie said that if a student member is unable find a local alumni whose background and career matches their interests, they can be matched with a phone contact.
“My friend gave me a great recommendation to her manager, and I was offered an interview right away when I knew that a lot of other people had applied,” said Jinnyi Pak, a sophomore international relations major. “I think getting that job had a lot to do with connections.”
Sanders emphasized the importance of face-to-face connections.
“Ultimately it’s people who are hiring people,” Sanders said. “Networking helps employers get to know the person behind the resume. A summary of your qualifications and even a short interview is not always enough.”
Sanders herself is a UC Davis alumna that chose to work so she could help shape the future experiences of Aggies.
“I think that we alumni feel a sense of responsibility because we kind of see ourselves in the next generation. We want to give back to our alma mater,” Sanders said.
The presence of 126 companies at the Spring Internship and Career Fair on April 22 was due largely to UC Davis’s strong ties with its alumni, Sanders said.
“Let that selection process start at that very first introduction,” she said.
While Eadie advises that students start developing connections as soon as they can, there are still plenty of opportunities for those who are graduating.
The ICC will be holding a “Hire Me Academy” on June 16th and 17th, which will feature a series of seven key steps to job search success. One of those workshops will be devoted entirely to networking strategy, and focus on alumni connections.
For more information on ICC, visit icc.ucdavis.edu, or the center itself, located in South Hall.
MICHELLE RICK can be reached at email@example.com.