By Siegrid Massie | LTVN Reporter/ Anchor
When most people think of college, they think of a time to do a deep dive into specific subjects, with the hope that all the knowledge they acquire will be enough for them to get a job after graduation. There are many jobs out there that do require a certain level of competency that can only be proven with a degree. However, that is rarely enough for employers these days.
In an article by Forbes Magazine, Bianca Miller Cole wrote about how networking gives job applicants an essential competitive edge in the job market, which could mean the difference between getting the position or being rejected. According to Cole, networking provides individuals with a chance to exchange ideas, form professional relationships, improve your status and connect with opportunities that you might not otherwise have access to.
Many students believe that they must wait until they are out of college and in the “real world” before they can tap into this vast networking web, but that is absolutely not the case. The reality is, as students, you perhaps have some of the best resources you will ever come across in a professional capacity right now. Your professors are a wealth of knowledge as well as an abundance of connections. If you show passion for the subject they teach outside of normal class times, many professors are more than willing to point you in the right direction and set you up with their colleagues to help you achieve your goals. Outside of professors, colleges offer many events and resources for students to access connections. Some examples of this are alumni networks, career centers, job fairs and more.
However, networking is not only about the connections you can form out of interactions. Perhaps the most useful tool you will learn by networking is people skills. According to a recent study from LinkedIn — the largest professional network online — persuasion, collaboration and emotional intelligence are the primary skills companies are looking for. None of these skills can be taught in a classroom. These skills come from practical experience and professional junctures.
The beauty of the networking system is that it can take you as far as you want it to. Is there a specific company you would like to work for? Is there a particular person who you think could be a great mentor? There is no limit to the number of ways you can use the web of professional connection networks. Your technical skills, education and degree might make you qualified for the opportunities you want, but it’s your network that opens the door to them.