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When it comes to building a career, nothing works like a good network. Whether you plan to take a job after graduation, start your own business, or plan to take on further studies, a good network always comes handy. But unfortunately networks are not built in a day; they take time to develop. Here are some tips for graduate students to build a good network
1. Be in good terms with your professors
There is a high possibility that your professors are well connected with the industry and could be a good source for referrals. So it is always a nice idea to take advice from your professors. Start off by discussing your career plans with them a little early in your semester, and seek advice on ways to accomplish it. It is very likely that they have ideas that you might not have thought about. Keep them updated about your progress (not a daily status update – but maybe once a month), and see if they can refer you to some of their industry contacts or ex-students working in the industry.
2. Start networking with peers and seniors
Most of your seniors who graduated, would have managed to find themselves a career in the corporate world. It is also possible that some of your peers from school and college have already made their mark in the industry you desire to venture into. Get in touch with your old schoolmates and collegemates. Get to know the friends of your friends. You don’t have to party with all of them, but do keep in touch, so that you could tap into these networks when the need arises.
3. Explore - avoid the conventional path
You may think you know what you want to do in life, but chances are you don’t. So use your time in grad school to explore various options. Just because most of your classmates desire to pursue a particular career, doesn’t mean that it is the best thing to do in life. Attend career fairs, presentations by industry personnel, talks by corporate speakers and use these opportunities to find out things that happen in various industries and positions. Explore. Do not be afraid to try out new things. If not anything, you will sure get to meet a lot of interesting people this way.
4. Be ready to work for free
It you fail to get a paid internship, it might be a good idea to take up a voluntary project/assignment with a company you are interested to work with. If you build a good connection with them, if you manage to impress them, you just might have an offer from them by graduation. It’s always better to get some experience rather than have no experience at all. You will at least get to meet people and build good relationships.
5. Be Professional
Orkut is fun, and so is Facebook. But besides the fun part, they are extremely powerful networking tools as well. Use these and other networking sites like Linkedin to create your ‘net’ presence. Be active, but be sensible; be yourself, but be appropriate. Avoid putting stuff on your page that would be sensitive or might be considered offensive. Avoid ruining your ‘net’ image because you never know who is watching you.
Finally, you need to understand that networking isn’t distress call. Your contacts aren’t obliged to help you. When you get in touch with someone and ask for a job referral, there is a high chance that the person doesn’t have anything to offer. That’s fine. Don’t pester them. At the same time don’t be annoyed because they couldn’t help you. The idea of tapping into your network is just to make them aware that you are on the lookout for an opportunity and that any assistance in that regards will be most welcome.
PS: Eventually when you get a job and start your career, be sure to help others with their careers as well. Pass on the good work.
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Jothsna Rege -jothsna [at]academyone.net
Jay Rege - jayrege[at]academyone.net