The Power of Networking

Image courtesy Higher Education Review

College presents challenges from coursework to financial hurdles and finding the right major. You’re simply selling yourself short if you go to class, get a grade, and leave. This approach is mundane, lackluster, and arguably a waste of money. Colleges of all sizes are a world within the world, offering something for everyone. You’ll find top-tier professionals, student clubs, and people from all walks of life. Best of all, a vast array of educational opportunities to enhance life as you know it. In today’s unforgiving job market, it’s critical that students exhaust every option they have to enhance their college experience. Getting involved will rarely look bad on your resume, and almost always impress employers if done correctly. If students would like to squeeze every opportunity that academia has to offer, then networking should be near the top of their priority list.

There’s a reason the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” gets tossed around so liberally. Sure, you could show up to class, get a 4.0, and get on Indeed. But why stop there?

You have at your disposal the most valuable resource of all, an entire campus filled with professionals: career coaches, fellow students, and the invaluable professors. Understand that a career coach is someone whose very job is to help you create a practical map to navigate your desired academic career. Fellow students can save you from that test you’re so terrified of taking, as study buddies can be priceless. Or, they can become a business partner, customer, or co- worker, just by striking up conversation.

The Holy Grail of academic networking is professors. These professionals have been there, done that and seen and experienced many mistakes one could make. How much pain and suffering could you save yourself from utilizing such a resource? What would it mean for your resume if you had research experience alongside a well- respected college professor? Fortunately, professors are usually more than willing to provide insight, job opportunities, and insider tips in their respective field.

After you’ve familiarized yourself with your instructors, it may serve you to get involved in a student club. Henry Ford College offers countless clubs, on a personal and professional level. The real-world skills it takes to recruit members, organize meetings, and properly market the organization surely translates to several post-college careers. Not only will your teamwork and critical thinking be challenged, but you are destined to meet someone who shares your interests.

College can be lonely. The homework, tests, and the inevitable stress will challenge even the most emotionally stable students. A strong acquaintance, or even friend, could do wonders for stress-management during college. Someone to vent to, get advice from, or take on college together could be exactly what you need. Not to mention what professional leaps you could make if you network with fellow students. While universities have many students from different backgrounds, community colleges especially contain a diverse range of individuals. You might meet someone working toward their third career, or an immigrant fighting for the American Dream. Inevitably, both cases can lead to enormous things for both parties. That student on their third degree might employ you if you’re hard up for work. That immigrant might shed light on a culture you never knew about, only to improve your social awareness in professional circles later in life.

If you’re going to spend thousands of dollars to get an education, you ought to make it worth your while. Jobs, internships, and professional connections won’t just fall into your lap; they take work. It’s important to remember that you are not alone in your mission to complete college, nor are you alone in your emotions. Ask for help, mingle with others, and foster a relationship with the professionals provided to you; we’re all in this together.