You’re a second-year in college, trying to find an internship for this summer or next, and you attend as many university-held networking events as possible. Yet, you aren’t hearing back from companies. You think you’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing by attending these events, so you get frustrated. Why aren’t you hearing back from anyone? Is there anything else you can do to stand out from students who have the same goal as you? Does networking really make that big of a difference?
For this post, I spoke with Jessie Hu, a former UBWA general member who graduated in 2020. Jessie specialized in Consumer Family Financial Services while at Ohio State and was passionate about her role in UBWA. She commented that she loves how supportive UBWA is of women in the business world, as it has been a male dominated field for so long and how great it is to have a community that helps out one another.
As many people in the business world would say, “it’s not about what you know, but who you know.” The best way to expand your network and meet more people is by attending events, putting yourself out there, and speaking to people you normally would be afraid to speak with. However, that can be very nerve-wracking for someone who is not as outgoing compared to other individuals. One tip Jessie gave for overcoming this obstacle of nervousness is that if you are at a networking event, or even a school career fair,, go up to a business you are not interested in to use it as a “breaking point.” After you’ve practiced a bit and start to get comfortable, make your way over to a company you are actually interested in. Taking small steps is acceptable, and even encouraged, because not everyone is naturally fearless when it comes to networking ,and that’s okay. Another way to get better at networking and feel more comfortable is by practicing. Preparation is key, and practicing networking in front of friends or parents until you get the hang of it can be extremely beneficial.
Another aspect that not many students think about is the bigger picture. As students, our main priority and focus is on the short term. We focus on getting internships and then getting jobs, but what we often don’t realize is that the best things happen when you least expect them too. Jessie shared a story about how networking helped her determine her future career path in ways she never could have predicted. If it were not for networking, she never would have landed the job that she is in now. She was able to receive an interview for her current job through her friend, who she met while taking taekwondo classes, and now couldn’t be happier in her position. The moral of this story is that networking is extremely beneficial, even if it’s informal. Networking does not only have to take place during a formal event, but it can also take place in your daily life.it’s important that you always push yourself to form connections with others around you, because you never know who someone else knows and how that may benefit you in the future.
So, next time you’re in a situation where you’re around people you don’t know, don’t be afraid to speak up and build connections.You never know who or where you might be able to get your next job from. Just relax, practice, and go out and attend as many events as you can. Lastly, Jessie left me with advice to “make sure you love what you do, because if you don’t, it will show.”