Why Networking in College is Important

Networking in college is super important to an individual’s success post-graduation and no, I don’t mean social-networking (this can be useful though). Networking is an essential skill in getting ahead in, what we college students like to call, "The real world". I know, how dare I bring up anything to do with life after URI, but hear me out. If students simply begin to develop their networking skills in their college career, then these skills will be quite sharp come graduation. I suggest beginning to network at around junior-standing. This will give you plenty of time to really discover the kind of fields that interest you so you can be more specific in who you focus your networking capabilities on. Also, just to make this clear, you don’t have to know exactly what career you plan on going into post-graduation, however, it does help to have a general idea. 

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I’m not going to bore you with all the details of the various types of networking, but I will let you know that URI has multiple resources on their website including a "Network Action Plan" that are very helpful tools if all of this is overwhelming. When it comes to networking, it is important to make valuable connections. You should try to avoid asking an individual "What can you do for me?" and instead focus on emphasizing what you can offer them. I feel this is the most difficult part of the process because you’re basically just bragging about all you have to offer. It’s best not to think of it in this way; instead think of it as a brief summary about what you’re passionate about, what opportunities you have already participated in, and what you’ve learned from those opportunities that are relevant to the person (and the company they are working for) that you are speaking to. 

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I know it may seem lame, but the career fairs and events URI hosts are a great opportunity to work on these skills in a "no-pressure" environment that you can find right on campus. That is one thing I will say about URI; they really do give you the tools to succeed, but not many people take advantage of this. I highly recommend attending at least one of these events. Speak with at least one of the representatives there and that’s all you need to do. Don’t push yourself. I know it can be challenging for some to speak with people in general, let alone speak with them about yourself and I’m going to be honest, these events can be overwhelming. Just make the smart decision to go, and make sure to be yourself. You’ve got this.