It is NEVER too early to start networking. Making connections in the industry of your choice can and should start while you are still a student. The earlier, the better! If you want to secure a job right out of college, or at least shortly after, building a network is absolutely crucial. Long story short, plant the seeds before you need to harvest them!
Here are five tips to get your network on while managing a full course load:
1. Flash that student card. Everyone, especially alumni, are more likely to connect with you and offer advice before graduation. Why is that? There's less pressure on them when you are not yet looking for a job, but sincerely wants career tips and industry secrets. If you develop these kind of relationships over time while still at Concordia, these important contacts will legitimately want to help you out when the time comes to transition from full-time student to full-time career person.
2. Utilize LinkedIn. After all, that's why it was invented. Start perfecting, enhancing and building your profile now, and it is absolutely not too early to begin the process of tracking the network you are trying to build. The more connections you make there now, the more likely you will start seeing opportunities in your desired field popping across your screen. Score!
3. Look outside of campus. It's easy to get so locked into university's bubble that you forget what's going on outside the quad. Get ahead of the game by taking your networking off of campus. There are probably several local conferences in your field that can really help you meet the right people. Start strategically using your social media now, and updating your resume, so that you can keep yourself on the radar when the time comes to promote yourself at these type of events.
4. Secure a part-time job in the field. Need a little cash? Instead of taking the first job that comes around, try and go after one that will give you skills that translate to your future field. For instance, if you are looking to become an educator, see if there are any tutoring or academic camp jobs available. It will be a great way to show you are serious about your career when your future hiring managers asks what you did with your extra time while attending university.
5. Take that internship. Employers often hire employees from their intern pool. Even if they don't, if you make a good impression, this is a connection that you really can't pass up. Even if the opportunity is not paid, showing off your talent and skills as an intern in your desired field is the easiest way to get your foot in the door.