It’s Who You Know
Submitted by Kelly Sheldon, Class of 2013
Networking, networking, networking. The word can seem a bit daunting and vague, but if you haven’t heard it already, I guarantee that you will at some point in your job search. But what exactly does that entail? Well, pretty much exactly what it sounds like—to network is to build up a web of connections and relationships with various business people from a wide variety of industries. Everyone you ask will tell you that this is an important skill to have, and I can’t stress enough the importance to take this seriously—it just may land you an internship or maybe even a job.
My story with networking actually begins with my major: sociology. All of the professors will tell you that in the real world, it is not so much what you know as it is who you know. I never realized the true scope of this statement until I began my job/internship search in the spring of 2012. Now, at the time I was a junior, so naturally I was in my “freak out about graduating and senior year” mode. Earlier that semester I made sure to join all of the clubs and societies on campus that had to do with my desired career field: editing/publishing and journalism. I became a writing consultant, a tutor, and a copy editor for the Sandspur. I also asked professors and advisors about any opportunities around campus that may also be of interest to someone wishing to break into that field of work. I wanted to make sure I had experience, another extremely important factor when searching for jobs.
Getting so involved on campus not only gave me personal experience to add to my resume, but it also pushed me to talk to people and come out of my comfort zone. Even if you are a naturally shy person who abhors talking to people (like I am), get yourself out there and meet people. Do things! Trust me, I know what it feels like to be afraid to talk to people, but most of the time those people are glad that you approached them and expressed interest—most of the time, people love to talk about themselves and what they do for a living. Meeting people can really only help you—either the people you talk to will be excited that you approached them, or you may never hear from them again. But either way, you are not losing anything. People know who you are.
But getting involved with Rollins programs was only the first step (albeit an important one because it taught me how to interact with others in a more professional environment). Rule #1: GO TO CAREER FAIRS. Bring multiple copies of your resume. If any companies spark your interest, go up and talk to them! Introduce yourself and tell them a little about your goals. Ask them about their available positions and give them a copy of your resume! Again, either you hear back from them in a week or two or you don’t, but at least you put yourself out there.
As for me, I decided on a whim to attend the career fair in the spring of 2012. I printed out multiple copies of the resume that I laboriously obsessed over for months, and gave it to a few companies, including ones that weren’t my first choice. I just knew that I needed to get out there and do something in a real work environment. Initially, I was planning on joining a company that I wasn’t too excited about. But soon after and completely out of the blue, I got a call from Where Orlando Magazine who had been given my resume by Orlando Magazine, their sister publication. Networking at its finest! I had found an internship in my desired career field, and it was so easy! I introduced myself to a magazine company and let them know my career goals, and while they were looking for something slightly different at the time, my efforts paid off in the end.
But that’s just the beginning. My internship at Where made me even more confident in my abilities. I have met a number of influential people in the publishing business, as well as those in other industries who subscribed to the publication. I was able to create real relationships that have definitely come in handy at present. When my internship with Where was coming to an end, I once again began my frantic search for work. My boss actually suggested that I contact someone at the Orlando Business Journal, which I did, and now I am working for them! And this internship is sure to give me even more contacts that will hopefully prove useful once I actually graduate in the fall.
So bottom line: put yourself out there. Do not be afraid to go for what you want and introduce yourself to people—even people in industries other than your own. Meeting people and cultivating relationships with them can only serve to help you in the long run. You may be surprised by how much easier networking makes the lives of college students on the cusp of graduating and entering the real world. By simply dabbling in many different Rollins programs and attending a career fair or two, I have gone from having zero professional experience to obtaining two internships—and all in less than a year! So that tedious word that you hear constantly as a college student really has a lot of merit to it. Network, network, network! First step: get to Career Services and create a resume. You probably have more experience than you think.
I better see you at Rollins’ next career fair!