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Professional Relationships: How to Forge, Build and Sustain them in College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Lawrence chapter.

It seems that as young collegians academics, extra-curricular activities and friends are the focal point of our daily lives. But when it comes time to walk the stage for graduation at the end of your tenure at university (scary thought!) you’ll benefit both personally and professionally from the relationships you build with professors, alums and any other industry professional. These relationships are not created out of thin air, they require a fair amount of hard work and dedication. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tools to share so that you can begin paving your path to life after college.

Attend Career Center Events
“This model serves as a guide in educating the Lawrence community for success in a lifetime of career decision making in an everchanging global and diverse workforce.”
Career Center Mission Statement

The Career Center at Lawrence (located right by the Wriston Turnaround and connected to the library) exists to help students with any career-related questions. Among a wealth of services the center offers, you can make appointments with career advisors to discuss internship or career opportunities for life after Lawrence. Also, regardless of your year in school, it never hurts to have fresh eyes look over your resumé or cover letter. While in-person interviews are ideal you may run into situations where your resumé will be the first and only impression a future employer will have of you and your accomplishments.

The Career Center recently began sponsoring the Lawrence Scholars Program, an alumni mentoring program that provides current students the opportunity to network with alumni. The program caters to a variety of interests including Lawrence Scholars in Arts and Entertainment, Business, Environmental Careers, Law and Medicine. In fact, I attended the Lawrence Scholars in Arts and Entertainment summit this past winter term and networked with an alum who played an integral role in helping me score an internship this coming summer in advertising! Attend these events. They really do help refine your interests and introduce you to incredibly kind and generous alumni.

Respond to E-mails (and go to office hours!)

This point may seem obvious and trite, but following up in a timely manner with your professors does not go unnoticed. I once spoke with a professor who told me, verbatim, it frustrates me when students tell me they haven’t checked their email. Later down the line in your college career when all of your first-pick classes are filled to capacity, you may need to ask a professor to create a tutorial or independent study with you. They are more apt to want to dedicate their valuable time to you and your interests if you’ve displayed remarkable diligence as a student in the past.

Keep a Contact Book

As a senior standing to graduate this coming June, I’ve compiled a nice stack of business cards from attending Lawrence Scholars summits, luncheons with convocation speakers and from interviews with potential employers. Networking really only works for you if you work hard for it. When an industry professional hands you their business card, it’s polite to drop them a line via email and explain how lovely it was to chat with them. You never know where that conversation will lead!

Keep in mind that a business card is like gold—you don’t want to lose it and it contains valuable information. If you don’t already have a system in place to organize your cards, it’s helpful to keep a book dedicated to archiving them. Where appropriate, add a descriptive sentence or two about the individual and what you discussed with them. At a later date, that information will be incredibly useful to you if and when you strike up conversation again.
Successfully creating and sustaining professional relationships during your college years is key to securing opportunities post-graduation. Be mindful that the people you are in conversation with are busy so, ideally, you want to remain concise and direct when contacting them. Alums are a resource to you, and Lawrence has an impressive group that wants nothing more than to help you achieve your highest potential.
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Ariella Morik is a senior at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin studying English and Film Studies. She has served as Vice-President of Her Campus™ Lawrence for the past year and is excited to take the position of Campus Correspondent. She is an active student within her academic department and is Vice President of Programming and Social Events of the Alpha Zeta chapter of Delta Gamma. After graduation, she plans to pursue a law degree or a masters in creative writing. When she's not busy with her academic and co-curricular engagements, she finds time to run outdoors and spend time with her friends.