#IWishIKnew About Networking In First-Year
Canada’s education system is often criticized for not implementing lessons about taxes, personal finance, and various other topics, and rightfully so, but the conversation about the importance of networking rarely seems to be included in this discussion. Before my first year at Western University, I had no idea what the term “networking” meant, and it would eventually turn out to be one of my most valued learning lessons so far.
What is networking? In the eyes of a young student, like myself, attempting to enter the job market, networking is simply creating relationships with people in positions that I would like to be in, or with the actual employers themselves. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the only experience I have had with networking has taken place on LinkedIn. If you’re a student, especially studying business, or even just a young professional ready to start your career, you should be on LinkedIn.; It provides a community of like-minded people stemming from different backgrounds, a place where they can highlight their past achievements and current successes to employers and most importantly NETWORK!
So, you now know what networking is and where it takes place, but why should this topic be taught in the early stages of school? Through my own experience, I know that networking is a lot harder than it seems.
First, finding the right people to connect with can be very challenging at times. I like to follow strict guidelines when it comes to this part of networking; I tend to research around ten companies I would like to work at and then simply look up that company and Western University in the LinkedIn search bar. The people that come up have studied at the same school as me and are either currently, or have recently, worked at one of the companies I am interested in. At first, I often questioned why someone I didn’t know would help me with landing a job or give me advice. Once I got past that awkward stage, Irealized that people in these positions want students to reach out and ask questions; with that networking became a lot easier.
Additionally, trying to find things to converse about instead of just asking for a referral is something I’m still learning how to do. Most of the time the idea of a referral doesn’t even come up… and that’s okay! Simply creating a relationship with people is getting your name out there which is worth more than it may seem. I like to ask questions about what exactly they do in their profession, if the work environment suits them, any problems they have run into so far, and if the job is what they expected it to be before their first day. This is a great way to show interest in the position and receive work-related advice from someone in the field.
Lastly, the most difficult assignment that comes with networking is maintaining these relationships. I haven’t fully figured this out yet but I’m getting better the more I do it. I’ve recently started an excel sheet of all my current contacts, who they work for, and when we were last in touch. This way I’m constantly staying organized and can see if I should contact someone based on the duration since we last were in contact. I’m also starting to try contacting certain connections when intern/job positions up at the company they work for. I would ask for their opinion on the opening and if it’s worth applying to. It is a great way to learn more and possibly even create an advantage for yourself that could separate yourself from all other candidates.
To end this segment, I would like to thank you all for taking time to listen to my perspective. Further, for anybody that found this helpful or those who have further questions, please do not hesitate to connect with me on my LinkedIn below.
Management and Legal Studies (BMOS) student @ Western University
Campus Ambassador @ LEAP Canada
About the Author
Roman joined LEAP to start off the summer as a Campus Ambassador on behalf of Western University. He’s currently heading into his second year of study and is pursuing a career in financial consulting upon finishing his degree. He takes pride in helping others both through LEAP and his other volunteer roles where he aims to provide a sense of comfortability for young students progressing into higher level education.