Six Ways to Grow Your Network

Published: Tues., March 3, 2015; by Stephanie Shipp

Stephanie Shipp portrait

The last semester in graduate school is a busy one. On top of schoolwork, most students also attempt to secure a job for May. It can be difficult figuring out a process or even attempting to pinpoint the jobs you want to apply for.

There are many ways to go about looking for a job. The best method that I’ve found so far is through networking.

Think of networking as making business connections that can help you land a job. Of course, this isn't the sole purpose of networking, but this is a huge part of it.

One aim of networking is to meet employees from companies you’re targeting. Current employees are a great way to find out about current job openings, which may have not even been listed yet. If nothing else, a current employee will be able to put in a good word for you and let the hiring manager know to look out for your application. At best, that employee might be able to land you an interview and the connection might get you the job if there are several candidates under consideration in the last phases of the interview process.

You may be asking yourself how to begin networking. The best advice that I’ve received is just to tell everyone you can that you’re on the job market and that any leads would be appreciated. You might be surprised at some of your friends’ and colleagues’ connections!

Attend as many (relevant) career fairs and networking events as you can. This may require some research on your part, but the connections you make should be worth it. It’s also great to meet recruiters in a more relaxed setting than in the office or an interview. This will hopefully make both of you feel more at ease and will allow you to get a good sense of the company culture.

It might also be worth contacting the alumni association at your current university and ask if they know of anyone hiring or if they can put you in touch with an alumnus who works in your field. Worst-case scenario, you can get some career advice from the fellow alumnus. In the best-case scenario, you might just end up landing a job!

Always carry a résumé with you wherever you go. You never know who you’re going to meet and hopefully your preparation will impress them. Also, you can create business cards through Microsoft Word. Although this is not the ideal method of creating business cards, it’s free and convenient. It’ll allow you to further brand yourself as a job candidate. Just make sure the color scheme, monogram and any other creative elements are the same on both. 

LinkedIn Premium allows you to send emails to recruiters for jobs you’re applying for. You can sign up for a free month of the service.

Finally, remember that even if you begin to feel overwhelmed, as long as you’re applying or taking steps toward applying, you’re making progress. To measure your progress more easily, set goals for yourself. For example, aim to apply for three jobs a day. Reward yourself for reaching these goals and don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t hit your goal. You still have time and you can use this resource to find a company you can grow with, avoiding another job search in a few years.