Welcome to week six of the ICC’s Countdown to Summer! Each week the Internship and Career Center (ICC) will highlight a task that will prepare you to land a job or internship by this summer. Breaking the process down to weekly tasks will make it less daunting and will yield success. This week we answer the question: “Networking: Why, What and How?”
Networking: Is it important?
Networking is the process of getting to know people, especially those working in your field of interest or in a related field of interest. It’s an information exchange between you and people you know or acquaintances you identify through other relationships. It is estimated that about 80 percent of jobs are obtained through professional contacts, not job search sites. We need to network to be successful in today’s job market!
“I don’t know anyone who can help me! So, I can’t network.”
False! There is no need to have established connections; you have to make them. Say you are a plant science major interested in entering the marketing field. Ask your friend majoring in managerial economics to tell you when her favorite professor has office hours. Use your internet research skills to find companies, professors or professionals in marketing, send them a professional e-mail and request an informational interview (for more information check out our website). Bam! You have networked. It takes some elbow grease, not to mention courage, but it is worth it! Before you know it, you will be the one providing assistance to others.
“People are not interested in helping me.”
False! Professionals want to help and can provide resources that may help you obtain opportunities. Remember, the people in your network were once in your shoes and have common interests and backgrounds, such as being a UC Davis graduate or being involved in biotechnology research. By networking, you are requesting information on a specific field. Your connections usually know of opportunities and will pass them along. Also, a member of your network may recommend you to someone they know, helping to expand your professional contacts.
Learn About Your Fields of Interest and Create a Support System
Networking helps you expand your knowledge about companies and opportunities available in your area of interest, helping to guide, refine and drive your career! Also, this network consists of professional associates who can help you stay connected, up-to-date and encouraged.
LinkedIn and Other Ways to Start Networking!
You can supplement, but don’t replace, your real life connections through networking sites such as LinkedIn. You can upload a resume and pertinent personal information, follow groups or companies that interest you and connect, like adding friends on Facebook, with professionals who are related to your field of interest.
LinkedIn is a career networking tool. It is NOT Facebook, so no relationship drama updates! In fact, before you start your career or internship search, clean up your Facebook; recruiters review Facebook pages of potential employees!
Hopefully, you are now convinced there are benefits that come from networking. Creating professional relationships with company employees, professors, classmates and family are great ways to get started. The hardest part is starting! Remember to reach out in real life, too. There are many resources with helpful information waiting for you; the ICC is here to help!
Ritika Sharma has been with the Internship and Career Center (ICC) since 2010 and can assure you that job search strategies, such as networking, are the key to finding your career success. She is on LinkedIn as well, so add her! The UC Davis Internship and Career Center (ICC), located on the second and third floors of South Hall and online at iccweb.ucdavis.edu, has decades of success helping to launch Aggies on their professional paths, and its services are FREE to currently enrolled UC Davis students.