How to Network in College: Advice and Tips for Students

How to Network in College: Advice and Tips for Students

How to Network in College: Advice and Tips for Students banner

A professional network is a series of connections that you must build to uncover the most lucrative and enticing opportunities within your career. By cultivating a diverse and wide-ranging professional network, you will be able to expand your career in ways that would not otherwise be possible.

What most people don’t realize is that the process of building your professional network actually begins before your career starts. By learning how to network in college, you can graduate with more than a degree — you can walk away with a vibrant and active network that will unlock doors for you within your chosen field.

Why Networking in College Is Valuable

While college is a time to study and prepare for entry into your chosen field, it’s also a pivotal moment in your career journey. When you learn how to network in college, you can begin creating a web of connections that will allow you to uncover internship opportunities or access entry-level jobs.

When Is the Best Time to Start Networking?

The fact of the matter is, it’s never too early to start networking. Your college years are the best time to begin networking because this is when you will form those first strong ties based on shared experience and common connections. These are the ties that will remain throughout your professional career.

What Are the Benefits of Networking in College?

While it may feel daunting to try to add another task to your college to-do list, given the fact that most of your days are spent attending class, studying and socializing, you will find that making an effort to network is worthwhile. These are some of the top benefits of networking in college:

Access to Resources

By beginning the process of networking in college, you will find that you have access to a wide range of resources exclusive to a college campus. For instance, you may be able to work with your advisors or the student services team to be placed for an internship or to connect with a professor who could serve as a mentor.

Puts Interpersonal Relationship Skills Into Practice

Per Indeed, college is one of the best times in your life to start practicing your professional interpersonal skills. As you begin to discover your own professional style and persona, you can start interacting with your peers, professors and new professional contacts accordingly.

Preparation for Graduation

Actively networking in college will prepare you for graduation and all the professional endeavors that follow after you earn your degree. The process of networking requires you to rely on your confidence and poise to make connections, maintain relationships and uncover potential opportunities.

Receive Support During Academic Journey

As you begin to build your network in college, you will find that many of these professional contacts may also serve as mentors during your academic journey. For example, a professor in your program can provide you with additional guidance during your studies, while a supervisor from your internship program can give you actionable advice about coursework that will be most applicable during your career.

Professional vs. Informal Networking

There are distinct differences between professional and informal networking, and it’s important to understand which networking style works best during your college years.

Professional networking is the process of building strategic relationships within the scope of a professional or collegiate role. On the other hand, informal networking is the type of casual networking that occurs through personal relationships and social interactions.

During college, you can leverage both types of networking styles to develop a well-rounded network of connections.

How to Network in College

Networking in college is easier than you think. You may find that your network begins to grow organically simply from the normal interactions that you enjoy each day on or around campus.

Join University Clubs and Organizations

At any university, regardless of its size or location, there are dozens of different clubs and organizations that allow you to find a niche that feels right for you. By joining clubs and organizations that align with your personal interests and professional goals, you will be able to begin to meet like-minded individuals and grow your network.

Participate in Job Fairs

Frequently, universities will host job fairs to help students connect with prospective employers. Even if you are a few years away from graduation, you should begin attending job fairs to learn more about the businesses hiring in your industry and gain experience interviewing with recruiters.

Get Involved in the Career Center

The career center provides valuable services and resources for students looking to build their resumes and grow their professional network. By getting involved in the career center, you may be able to:

  • Participate in practice interviews.
  • Have your resume reviewed by an industry professional.
  • Learn about internship opportunities.
  • Connect with a mentor in your field.

Stay in Contact With New Connections

Once you begin generating new contacts and meeting fresh faces at college, you will want to maintain contact with these connections to leverage the full power of your professional network. Social media allows you to easily connect online with your professional network and gives you a chance to stay abreast of any possible openings or opportunities in your field.

How to Network as an Online Student

Professional networking while enrolled as an online student at college may look a little different from professional networking on campus, but it’s still possible. In fact, you may find that it’s easier to grow and expand your network online.

Take Advantage of Online Networking Tools

Online networking tools are an incredibly powerful resource, particularly for online students. To illustrate, LinkedIn is the leading social networking site for professionals across all industries. Through LinkedIn, you can quickly discover connections, make contacts and post updates about your professional accomplishments.

Participate in Class Discussions

Many online courses have synchronous components that allow for live, real-time interaction. Be sure to stay active during this portion of the coursework, as it’s a great way to meet new people and connect with others in your degree program.

Ask to Connect With Classmates

By making a conscious effort to connect with your classmates outside the online learning environment, you will begin to develop new social connections. You might even possibly uncover professional connections that can help you build an even stronger network.

Participate in Virtual Events

Most universities that offer online undergraduate programs and online graduate programs host virtual events that provide students with engaging information, access to resources and opportunities to network. Whenever your university is hosting a virtual event, try to participate to take advantage of this unique networking opportunity, which can help you connect with professionals from around the globe.

Become a Part of the Alumni Network

Joining the alumni network at your school (even before you graduate) can be incredibly rewarding. Through the alumni network, you may find information about:

  • Work-study programs
  • Internship opportunities
  • Job openings

The Value of Networking for College Professionals

Investing your time and resources into building a professional network during college will pay off in dividends. These are some of the benefits of actively networking in college.

Cultivating Long-Term Relationships

By creating strong connections in college, you can cultivate long-term relationships that may impact your professional growth and development throughout your entire career. This may ultimately open doors to new opportunities and collaborations that otherwise might remain inaccessible.

Possible Career Opportunities

Networking in college will help you become more aware of the career opportunities available to you. To note, you may find that one of your professors becomes a trusted mentor throughout your degree program. They may be able to connect you with their own contacts in the industry to help you launch your career.

Making Informed Decisions About Career Paths

There are so many college students who choose a major immediately after enrolling at a university, only to find out that the program and the career that results from it is not what they expected. By networking in college, you can begin to develop a well-rounded understanding of the field you are focusing on, and you may even find out about unique career opportunities that you weren’t aware of before. This allows you to make informed decisions about your career trajectory as you look toward graduation and beyond.

Why Is Networking Important in College?

Networking in college is vitally important because it allows you to be more aware of the career possibilities available to you. It helps you access the internships and job opportunities that will allow you to launch your career and quickly advance in your field.

Begin Creating Lasting Connections and Developing Your Professional Network at Johnson & Wales University

At Johnson & Wales University, we offer a wide range of online undergraduate programs and online graduate programs designed to help you acquire the knowledge and skills needed to advance your career. In addition to providing all our students with a rigorous and engaging academic experience, we also pride ourselves on the fact that we have cultivated a culture in which all students can begin building the deep and lasting connections needed to uncover the best opportunities in their chosen field or industry.

For more information about completing your degree online, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

Step 1Step 1 of 2
*Required Field Step 1 of 2
Step 2

By clicking Get Started below, I consent to receive recurring marketing/promotional e-mails, phone calls, and SMS/text messages from Johnson & Wales University (JWU) about any educational/programmatic purpose (which relates to my inquiry of JWU) at the e-mail/phone numbers (landline/mobile) provided, including calls or texts made using an automatic telephone dialing system and/or artificial/prerecorded voice messages. My consent applies regardless of my inclusion on any state, federal, or other do-not-call lists. Consent is not a condition for receipt of any good or service. Carrier charges may apply. Terms and conditions apply.

« Previous Step 2 of 2
Request info