The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
“Connections, connections, connections are important to getting jobs out of college.” That was one of the first things I was told when entering college.
I remember being terrified after hearing that. I thought to myself, “How am I supposed to connect with others when I don’t know anyone here?”
Internships, jobs or work opportunities can already be scary when applying. What can be even scarier is having no connections in such a well-connected world.
Being a first-generation college student, I was frightened of the idea of college. I barely knew anything about how to navigate the college experience and especially the connections along the way. I never had much academic help from my parents growing up and I knew in college I wouldn’t either.
Now that I’ve been here for three years, I’ve seen a pattern of experiences in which individuals born into wealth and privilege are given better opportunities than me based on their families. This is true for who their families are and also who they know. I only rarely experience a case in which one of these friends, acquaintances, roommates, classmates or partners are deserving of the position based solely on their merit.
It’s been hard, really hard, watching these jobs, internships or work opportunities slip from my hands due to not knowing a familiar face.
However, I feel as though I have gathered the skills to help me navigate a well-connected world with no connections, and here is my advice to do so.
- Remember your self-worth
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s hard to not compare yourself to others and what others have, I still do it. You need to keep reminding yourself that one day you will achieve great things too solely based on your skill, intelligence and charisma.
- Introduce yourself to those you admire
One thing that has helped me find opportunities that I wouldn’t usually have access to, is reaching out to those I look up to. Whether it is a professor with experience in your preferred field or an upperclassman who was able to land a cool internship, reach out to them.
- Get involved
Start getting involved in clubs that interest you and coincide with your major or ideal career. You can always put clubs on your resume and write about how your involvement in that club has helped you gain experience in your field. Clubs are an easy way to gain exposure to the workforce and they’re a great way to make connections.
- Go to Career Services
If I hadn’t found Career Services in my first year of college, I don’t think I would have had the connections I have today. Career Services can help you find recent and past alumni who have gone to work in your desired field. Cal Poly alumni are always happy to talk about Cal Poly and how the university has helped them secure the job of their dreams.
Overall, I think one of the most important skills I have learned is the first. Keep reminding yourself that those who turn you down or push you away are missing out on every amazing part of you. Nepotism can be disheartening, especially when you’ve worked hard to secure a position and someone else is handed it. Don’t take it personally. You are the one working tooth and nail to be the person you want to be, and one day that hard work will pay off.