Today, students have access to resources from all over the world through the ever-growing Internet. It’s easier to expose yourself to opportunities, experiences & most importantly people who are a little ahead in the path that you would like to go. It’s a common idea that you are some combination of the people that you surround yourself with.
Thus, it is essential to find people who would give you that extra motivation you’ve been looking for and encourage you to tread on challenging paths. Unless you find yourself among others who are ahead of you, it’s hard to let go of the inertia that’s been holding you back. Now, this is where networking comes to play. Networking is a set of skills that is not hard to learn. With easy access to the internet, building a strong network in and beyond your university is an attainable process.
In India, as you might know, colleges are categorized as tier-1, tier-2 & tier-3 based on their reputation. If you find yourself getting into a tier-3 or tier-2 college, having a network beyond your college is beneficial for grabbing the opportunities you dream of. The factors that play a role in where you end up after your studies depend largely on how well you utilized the resources at hand. Through this article, we would like to bring your attention to why you need to build a network, followed by some helpful tips to do the same.
- Knowing Your Options – Creating Your Roadmap
When you initially join a University, it might be hard to get a picture of all the opportunities that are available to you. You might even be confused about what your next step is. The first thing to remember is to not be overwhelmed. Everyone feels this way at first, but once you discover all the possible paths that you could follow, nothing is stopping you!
Networking is an amazing way to learn about career options, types of companies, roles, and even Universities for higher studies. When you meet and build relationships with people working in different roles, you will get a better idea of what might be a good fit for you. You will get to branch out and explore all kinds of diverse options. Some communities offer events where you will be able to interact with senior employees in specific domains. Knowing your options and studying other people’s paths will help you build your road map.
One of the things that you should keep in mind is that there are numerous ways to get where you want to be. It’s not a direct step-by-step process, but a topsy turvy ride with amazing explorations, mistakes & recovery. So the more experiences that you learn, the better.
- Opportunities – Job Offers, Internships, Fellowships, Referrals
From scholarships to internships, there are a plethora of opportunities available for students from all over the world. You need to be aware of it to make use of it. That’s what Scholarship Track stands for as well – Making opportunities accessible to all.
Having a motivated strong network in and out of your University is a great way to know about all the opportunities that will be beneficial to you. A lot of online communities will have a space for job & internship postings.
Many companies give priority to their employees’ referrals during recruitment. This means that knowing or having interacted with someone in that particular company will be a great advantage when you’re trying to get a job there.
- Understanding Global Trends & Culture
The way we network has changed over the past years as the internet has become a major part of our lives. Networking is possible on a global scale today. Interacting and learning from people from different countries is essential to get a good idea about their work culture, education systems, and life in general. This can help you find potential future locations that you would like to work in and Universities that you would like to study in.
LinkedIn is an exceptional way to maintain contact with your professional network and also discover multitudes of opportunities. Having an active, well-maintained profile will help you get noticed by recruiters or even from the people that you’ve met before when they have openings. LinkedIn is also a place where people can share their experiences as videos, articles, posts, etc, which will help you broaden your exposure. There are many features like skill endorsements, skill tests, In-Mail, and connections.
Given that it is a useful platform for networking, it is also crucial that you learn how to use it effectively. Check out our previous article on using LinkedIn effectively here
- Social Media Groups
There is a great deal of social media groups on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Discord, etc which focus on one particular topic of interest. The topics of the groups could vary from ‘learning a certain programming language’ to ‘owning a particular brand of music instruments or digital equipment. It’s a great way to find like-minded people who are passionate about the same things that you are.
- Community Programs – Udacity
Udacity conducts a scholarship program as a preliminary phase for their nanodegree programs. This initial phase is different from other foundational online courses because being active in the community is one of the factors that affect the selection to the next phase. All the scholars of the first phase are given access to a Slack workspace where they get to interact with their peers, conduct initiatives, and help each other reach the finish line. Moreover, the program is open to everyone above the age of 18 from anywhere in the world.
Programs like these help to build your network. When you conduct an initiative with a peer, they will likely remember you later when they have an opening or referral. There will usually be a job posting channel where everyone can post any opportunity, which will be beneficial for you. Overall, such programs are fun and you will make friends. Check out this article here
- Networking Events / Club Meet-ups / Mentorship Programs
These are events directly aimed to expand your network. Organizations conduct networking events, both offline and online, to get to know people in the community. Such meet-ups also give you the advantage of meeting a mix of students and employees from various companies. Make sure you have an elevator pitch ready, you never know when you will connect with that particular person who will start a chain reaction to your dream job!
Mentorship programs are a great way of interacting with those who know what you are going through and can help you learn from their mistakes and experiences.
One of the main goals of attending a conference is to meet people. You get to interact with people with your own interests, your passions, who inspire you to challenge yourself. There are so many conferences particularly aimed at bridging the gap between students and professionals. Even though most of them might come at a cost, there are scholarships offered by the host organization as well as other organizations. Scholarships usually require applicants to submit their purpose through videos, resumes, recommendations & essays.
Here are some conferences that have proven to be insightful, fun, beneficial & a great way to build your network:
Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC / GHCI / GHC EMEA)
The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a series of conferences conducted by AnitaB.org, designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. Currently, 3 conferences are being held annually – GHC: international, GHCI: India (Asia) & GHC EMEA: Europe Middle East, and Africa. There are so many insightful sessions from tech talks to workshops followed by a career fair event. Visit their official website for more details.
The Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR)
HPAIR’s mission has been to connect the global leaders of today with the leaders of tomorrow in a dynamic forum of exchange. Students and young professionals from around the world are brought together to engage and learn from government leaders, business executives, social sector pioneers, celebrities, and leading academics. Visit their official website for more details.
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference
The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference is an information technology conference held annually by Apple Inc. From sessions to reveals & new opportunities, this is indeed an exciting opportunity! Visit their official website for more details.
Adobe MAX – The Creativity Conference
The Adobe MAX conference is an annual event held by Adobe Systems. ‘Recharge your inspiration, retool your skills, and reconnect with other passionate creatives from around the world!’ The best thing is that it is virtual and free. Visit their website for more details.
There are just a very few of the abundance of diverse conferences in existence. If you are eligible to apply, don’t hesitate. Meeting people through conferences is absolutely game-changing!
- Building your community
Couldn’t find a community that aligns with your interests? You can build and manage your own! For more details on this, check out this article here
Having easy access to communities and events worldwide also brings a few challenges along with it. It’s up to you to use your better judgment and realize the validity before taking decisions as many misuses the accessibility. With that being said, it’s essential to understand that there are a lot of different paths and opportunities that lead you to your dream destination. Networking is a tool that helps you take that extra step to get a wider vision. So brush up your elevator pitch, wear your confidence proudly, and build your network!
Thank you for sharing this insightful article on building a network beyond university! I completely agree with your points on the importance of networking and how it can benefit one’s career. Your tips on attending events, joining online communities, and reaching out to professionals in your field are great strategies to expand one’s network. As a recent graduate, I found this article very helpful in navigating the post-university world and building my professional network. Thank you again for sharing!