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How to Network When You Have No Connections

I never fully understood the importance of having a personal network until attending college. As a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman studying the humanities and hoping to change the world, I naively assumed I would be able to get hired anywhere based on my drive and passion alone. Although it's not impossible to get a job without connections, I underestimated the importance of having a network. The truth is that who you know is sometimes more important than what you know, and this was a really difficult concept for me to grasp. 

Locking down an internship can be easier for some students based on access to resources including time, finances, and familial connections. This discrepancy stems from deeper systemic inequalities in which socioeconomic class can be a predictive factor in your success. However, this doesn't mean that if you lack established connections, you shouldn't try to build your own network. 

When you build connections, you develop a network of people who understand what you can do in a professional setting. Ideally, when an opportunity is presented to someone in your network, they’ll consider students they’ve met in the past and ultimately help them increase their chances of being hired. By creating your own professional connections, you can fabricate a network of individuals who will actively support you and vouch for your skills. If you feel you lack the connections you need to reach where you want to be in life, here are some steps you can take to build a network of people who will support you in reaching your dreams:

Go to Office Hours

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Most college students have probably heard this at least a thousand times from a thousand different people. Trust me, I know it isn't always as easy as it sounds, but build a relationship with your professors! They truly want to talk to you. Your instructors became professors because they love to foster academic curiosity among their students. They want to hear what you have to say, and they want to help you succeed. Building a relationship with your professors can help give you amazing references for job opportunities, and possibly open the door to working alongside them on their research or the research of one of their colleagues. 

Join a Mentorship Program

Mentorship programs exist for the purpose of helping you build connections with people in your field and supplying you with guidance from professionals who were once in your position. The amazing thing about mentorship programs is that there are so many for low-income students and students of color. These programs can help give support to underrepresented populations and guide students from all backgrounds. You can find mentorship programs on your university’s website or ask your academic advisor to help find a program for you. 

Build your LinkedIn 

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LinkedIn can be extremely daunting, but it's a platform for building professional connections, and it can help you stand out to employers. Not only is it a place to connect with people in your professional field, but it's a hub where you can search for jobs and allow others to endorse the skills on your profile. It's a great way to start creating a web of connections on a professional social media platform. 

Attend Panels and Events Focused on Your Area of Interest 

Taking full advantage of the resources available through your university is something that most students often forget to do. There are so many resources available to students to help them advance professionally, but you have to be proactive and seek them out yourself. Some amazing opportunities that are offered at most universities are career-focused panels and events. By going to panels, career fairs, debates, or anything of the like, you open the door to meeting professionals with developed careers.

Armina Moshiri

UC Berkeley '23

Armina is a 4rd year at the UC Berkeley majoring in Environmental Economics and Policy who loves to write about sustainability, culture, and fashion!
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