College is the super fun but very important transition from high school into the working or graduate school world. It’s crucial that while you are in college you are not only enjoying your time, but making connections and finding mentors while you still have the time. Those can prove to be very important people once you get into the workforce and start looking for jobs or once you start applying to graduate school and need letters of recommendation. I am here to give you the lowdown on creating those connections. There is no right or wrong way to network, but I hope that these tips will prove helpful in your endeavor to find great connections and awesome mentors.
1. Start in your residence hall.
As far as connections and mentors go, your residence hall is a breeding ground. Make connections with the people who live with you, and look up to your resident assistants and resident coordinators as great mentors for you. When I went to applied for my university’s ambassador program, the first person I thought about as writing my letter of recommendation was my resident coordinator. She wrote my letter, and I am very grateful to her for that. You spend a lot of time in your residence hall. Start getting involved in RA programs or intramurals to make these connections.
2. Professors and classmates.
Professors and classmates can provide a wealth of contacts and mentors. Classmates come in all different parts of their collegiate careers, so they will be able to help you find things you might not be able to find yourself. Professors have been working in their profession for a while so they know quite a bit, and picking their brain will be very helpful. Start going by your professors’ office hours or talking with your classmates before class to make these connections.
3. Alumni Connections.
Usually your school keeps up contact with alumni in the area and around the world. Alumni are great, especially young alumni because they are very willing to help you find those dream jobs and internships. They are well connected and know what it’s like to be a college student. They want to give back to the university they came from in any way possible. This semester I got involved with my university’s alumni mentorship connection, and I was matched with a great young alumna who is helping me pursue my dreams in student affairs. Get involved with your universities alumni services to start making these connections.
4. Getting Involved.
Getting involved can provide a wealth of professional contacts and mentors. Join a club or two and even begin going for those executive positions. When you join clubs, organizations, and even professional organizations, you can begin to make connections that will carry out of the organization and into the workforce. You may meet 20 people in a club, and because of those 20 people, you could potentially meet 200 more people. Also, as you begin to take leadership positions you may be introduced to many older adults, like advisers, who will be able to mentor you. Get involved with clubs and organizations to start making these connections.
Many college students often have campus jobs and jobs off campus. Mentors and connections are everywhere if you look closely enough. Try to find out more about your boss to see if he/she has skills that interest you, and find co-workers with similar majors or interest. I am sure you will find someone to connect with or mentor you if you look closely enough. Have conversations with your boss and co-workers to start making these connections.
Here are more tips for making connections.
Don’t be afraid to just email someone you want to connect with. I am very interested in my school’s college student personal administration program, so I emailed a director. Sometimes this seems like a daunting task, but I promise more than likely they are willing to work with you. The worst thing they can say is no, and it’s just over an email. Go for it and start making your dreams a reality by stepping up to the plate and helping yourself to awesomeness.
2. Start connecting online.
Make a LinkedIn profile. They are extremely helpful for making new connections and keeping up with the connections you already have. Also, LinkedIn profiles are helpful for keeping up with your involvements and things that you can integrate into your resume. Think of your LinkedIn profile as a big document with all your involvements; from that document, you can begin to make your resumes. It’s always a good idea to have a long, ever-evolving list of all the things you have done. Sometimes you forget some of your activities, and that’s okay; it’s exactly what LinkedIn should be used for.
It’s easy to start making connections in college that might lead to better things in the future. Just start looking anywhere that you can think to look!