Written by: Clarissa Huffman
Sociology Level III
I hope you had a great reading week!! Keeping with my ‘take every chance you get’ mantra, I spent the week doing a geology field course in San Salvador and Rum Cay, Bahamas. There’s nothing quite like getting course credit and soaking up sunshine at the same time!!
Now that it’s back to real life (and cold weather), I’d like to chat with you about some things I learned at the Career Networking Breakfast a few weeks back. This was a very humbling experience because it was a great way to speak to people in a variety of different fields and learn that they got to where they are in so many different ways – no one path is alike. Are you sensing a trend here? I am.
In case you’ve never attended a networking event with EE, let me give you a quick idea of how this one went. After a keynote speaker, we had 5 rotations of 20 minutes each to change tables and speak to a professional from a different field within the social sciences. Let me tell you, with so many engaging conversations going on, 20 minutes has never passed so fast for me!!
The most obvious (and important) reason why this event is so valuable for undergraduates is because you get the opportunity to ask the questions that have been burned into your mind over the past few years of school: How do I apply for a job? How do people in my field end up so successful? What are the different paths I can take with my degree? At this breakfast, students could ask these questions and many more during what is pretty much 5 information interviews in a row – why would you want to miss that?? The other important reason why undergraduates should attend this event is because it lifts a veil that I truly believe covers the eyes of many undergraduates. Once that veil is lifted, it becomes easier to see that your degree isn’t set in stone, and neither is your path. Just because you’re in Economics doesn’t mean you’re going to be, or have to be, an ‘Economist’. In fact, I think that is rarely the case. Just like I quite likely will not be a ‘Geographer’, since I intend on pursuing a career in planning. By attending this event, I was able to listen to the different paths these professionals took, and realized that every person, and every path, is unique. It is important in your last years of your undergraduate degree, to realize that just because you did something differently from someone whom you deem ‘successful’, doesn’t mean that you are doomed to be unsuccessful. There are many paths to success – you just have to find yours!! So, I leave you with my three networking tips that I learned from this event:
1. Ask questions! Don’t be shy. Especially at events like this, professionals show up expecting to have their brains picked. They want to answer your questions and help, you, or else they wouldn’t be there. The same goes for ‘real-world’ networking. If you have a meaningful question, don’t just sit on it: speak up!! It will give you a chance to bond with the other party, and hopefully they will remember you in the future if your paths cross. Plus, you’ll probably get a helpful answer.
2. Ask for contact information. If you made a connection with someone, ask them if they mind if you contact them in the future with questions. They will likely offer an email address or a card, and you have added a significant name to your list of contacts. You never know when that might come in handy!
3. Be open. You never know who might have advice for someone in your position. Someone working in a very different field from the one you envision yourself in might have very similar experiences to yours, and could shed some insight that you never would have expected. Secondary on the ‘be open’ train of thought, be honest about your experiences and expectations – your contacts can only answer your questions based on the information you provide, so help them help you.