Career Corner: Never too early to network

The Department of Career Development faculty have recently focused their efforts on raising awareness about the importance of networking as an undergraduate student.

Networking is an effective strategy that college students can utilize to find opportunities like internships and full-time positions and to make professional contacts in their fields of interest.

Many undergraduate students do not take advantage of the opportunities to network that the office offers. Assistant Director for Programming & Development Kathy Tonkovich noted that a lot of effort has been put into conjuring more effective ways to connect with students about networking opportunities on campus.

“We [reach out] via email, we [reach out] by going to classes at times, we put out promotional materials such as flyers which we post around campus, we do a lot of the [Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development] workshops,” Tonkovich said. “We’re always trying to figure out new and creative ways to outreach to students; to let them know that we’re here to help.”

Tonkovich emphasized her belief that networking as an undergraduate is invaluable. The ability to establish a relationship with others in their profession or fields of interest is key to not only finding the career path, but to be successful in it.

For students who lack experience, the process of networking might be an intimidating task. Contrary to popular opinion, career counselors—with their access to dozens of online resources—are finding that students are more easily able to connect with different career professionals and discover more career opportunities.

“I think networking has become actually a lot easier in the last five to 10 years, frankly because of all the online tools,” Tonkovich said, “[Networking] was all done through word of mouth and [depended on] who you know, but now with the Internet and social venues such as Facebook and LinkedIn, you can—on your own time—go in, find alumni from Geneseo, introduce yourself online, exchange email addresses and immediately start connecting.”

The Department of Career Development hosts networking GOLD workshops called LinkedIn Labs which aim to help students setup their online profiles. The next LinkedIn Lab is Tuesday Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. in MacVittie College Union room 322. It is recommended, however, that students with specific questions regarding online networking contact the Department of Career Development and register for a one-on-one appointment with a staff member.

“We see a lot of people in one-on-one appointments coming in, asking for help with getting going with online networking” Tonkovich said. “I love going over LinkedIn profiles with people and helping them figure out how to make theirs strong, eye-catching and really effective.”

To provide more opportunities for undergrad students who are interested in starting or expanding on their list of professional contacts, the Department of Career Development will be coordinating several events for students who wish to connect with Geneseo alumni.

The GOLD workshop Speed Networking is scheduled for Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Big Tree Inn, which Tonkovich explained will include 15-20 alumni from a wide variety of fields to cater to the diversity of interests from undergraduate attendees.

The Geneseo Winter Break Alumni Shadowing Program is another way for undergraduates to network. Offered from Jan. 11-15, students can shadow an alum in the field of their choice to get a real look at a career they are interested in.

“I think it’s highly valuable to talk to other people that have completed a graduate degree at your program or school of interest,” Tonkovich said. “We really see the value in networking with the Geneseo alumni to learn about different careers, to explore careers and also to find different internship and job opportunities.”