Monday, February 1, 2016

Networking From an Academic Perspective

We all know about the importance of networking when it comes to job search and furthering our careers, but did you know that networking is just as important from an academic perspective? Join me as I share my latest experience networking with an academic twist. Read on for some helpful tips to get more out of your next networking experience

Where do I start?

Well the best place is with your departmental students association also known as a DSA. They often host networking events related to your specific program. For example, I recently attended a networking event held by the Geography and City Studies Students Association. In fact, it was the inspiration for this blog post!

Talk to your Professors!

Professors can often be found at networking events on campus, especially when the event is specific to your program. For instance, several of my professors where present at the networking event I attended.  Networking with your professors is a great opportunity to build on your knowledge of course material. This is not a substitute for office hours, but rather, is a chance for you to discuss parts of the course that really interest you. Try to talk about things that you’ve noticed outside of class that you think relate to the course themes. 

But wait there’s more!

Networking with professors doesn’t have to be all about building your knowledge, but conversations like the one discussed above can also help you to build relationships with your professors. You might wonder why this even matters, well it does if you are planning to apply to graduate school. Reference letters are an important part of the application process, and when professors have the opportunity to get to know you better they are more willing to provide you with a reference letter. 

Do I only have to talk to professors?

Nope, there are many other people you can talk to, from alumni, to industry experts, and even other students in the program! Often times networking events can be a great way to get more information on graduate school, usually from people who have already been, or are planning to go. For instance the same GCSA networking event I discussed above, also gave me insight into graduate school as this was the focus of the event. Questions such as “what is the merit in taking a year off or going straight into graduate school?” were asked during the event. Furthermore, there was a “mix and mingle” session, which was a great opportunity to ask the panelists further questions about graduate school. 

One more thing…

I wanted to leave you with a link to a resource from our website:
Scroll down to the bottom of this page and you will see a section titled Networking for Quiet Types, which contains some helpful links. I know myself, I can be a very quiet person and this can sometimes make networking hard, but it is definitely possible, and just might require us to use different techniques. 

I hope that this post has given you insight into some other ways to utilize your next networking event.

Happy Networking!
- Alanna

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