A big part of studying at university is networking. We don’t only want the piece of paper once we finish our degrees, do we? We also want to have developed networks within our chosen field by the end of our degree, because this might make it a tad easier to actually get a job at the end of the day. I don’t know about you, but I definitely want a job at the end of my degree!
There are a number of ways to use networking as a tool to help you gain employment, but these are the some of the ways I’ve used networking to further my career.
Your peers at uni
Creating and using the contacts you make while at university is important. This doesn’t only apply to your university lecturers, who obviously are within your field of study, but also your university peers, who you may just bump into a number of times after uni is finished. Having a relationship with your peers can be beneficial if they find a job in the same organisation or field you are trying to break into. A good word from someone already on the inside can be the foot in the door you need, and we’ve all heard the expression, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’.
It’s also important to try and work in a related field while studying. For myself, I am working at an Outside School Care as an Educator, looking after children from a range of backgrounds, ages and developmental abilities. This suits me, as I’m hoping to get a job at Kids Helpline next year and, along with my work with Lifeline, this is a perfect stepping stone towards my chosen career path. I have met many like-minded individuals through work, including a number of peers who are studying psychology (like me), education and child services.
If you’re unable to gain a paid job in a related field to the degree you’re studying, volunteering is always an option that will enable you to gain work experience that will help you attain paid employment in future.
A good way to create and maintain the contacts you make during your degree, work experience or by volunteering is via the social media site LinkedIn. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically the professional version of Facebook. People can visit your page and find out your career aspirations and desires and your tertiary qualifications. If you haven’t checked it out, do it now!
After all, we are in the technology age, and I don’t think it would surprise anyone if I say that technology is likely to have a massive impact on nearly every profession in the following years. As a psychology student who volunteers as a Telephone Crisis Supporter for Lifeline, I see evidence of this every week. Similarly, some psychology therapy sessions actually happen over webcam or the phone, due to people living in rural areas of the country.
So, being up-to-date with technology is definitely a necessity for networking with peers.
Connecting with peers during your degree and making industry contacts via work experience, volunteering and by using technology are all valuable ways of networking that will help you get job at the end of your degree. I know they’ve definitely helped me!