Dear Someone Else's Dad,
Do you have any networking tips for college seniors who are about to start their job search? My career services office says I should start reaching out to people and build a network, but I'm a little panicked about asking people for advice and don't know where to begin.
Not Prepared for Life
Dear Not Prepared,
Take a deep breath. A business network in the real adult world is very common, so don't think you're in this totally alone. Here are some tips on how to get started:
Decide what kind of experience you want or need to have right after college. Some grads may have to make money right away and take the highest paying opportunity to pay off loans or support their families. Others may want to head directly into a professional careers. And others may be able to afford to have a low-paying internship, go WWOOFing, or be a street performer working for tips. (Just rethink the dream of being a professional mime, ok?)
Second, remember that while your career services office may offer terrific help with research on companies and organizations and with setting up on-campus interviews, you will get a great sense of where you’ll fit in by doing your own networking with recent alumni, friends of friends, and yes, even your dad’s friend Harry The Actuary, who always told you to feel free to drop by his office some time to talk about life. Yeah, Harry may be a total tool, but meeting him will give you a sense of what at least one type of work environment is like, and will give you practice with how to manage small talk and how to ask questions.
Don’t panic when you see Instagram posts of your friends touting their job offers at banks and consulting firms. Just because they’re happy with the choices they made does not mean that 1) you would have been happy with those types of jobs and 2) you’re a loser because you haven’t figured out what you want to do yet. Lives and careers are long. Your first job will not define you for the rest of your life.
Best of luck to you,