We hear it everywhere we go: learn to network. Networking is a skill that builds relationships, provides opportunities for mentorship, initiates connections and possibly leads to internships or job openings. You can network at events like PRSSA National Conference or even in line at the grocery store. Networking happens everywhere and anywhere — including your own backyard.
Networking on campus adds value to your personal and professional college experience, whether you’re a first semester freshman or last semester senior. By forming relationships with members of other organizations, attending different events and pursuing other interests, you’ll be able to make campus feel small and pursue unique opportunities.
Get to know your faculty and staff members.
Some of the best advice I received was to actually stop by professors’ office hours and get to know people in the career center. By getting to know my advisers, I was able to study abroad, strategically plan course loads and find the best student organizations to join. (And having genuine relationships as the foundation for recommendation letters doesn’t hurt either.)
Getting to know the career center representative for your college will benefit you as different companies, on-campus interviews and internship/job searches approach. They can help connect those dots for you and make the connections you’ll need to launch your career.
Check the university’s events calendar.
Whether your school has 50,000 students or 500 students, the events calendar has hidden gems for everyone. From guest lectures to workshops and galleries, there are diverse opportunities to meet different people and learn a lot. If you’re interested in theater publicity, attend some performances and chat with people selling programs about how they got involved. If you want to go into sports, take advantage of student opportunities and promotions offered. The awesome thing about public relations is that everyone in every industry needs you. Plug yourself into those events.
Do things on your own.
This might be challenging, but taking a random seminar class or joining another organization without four of your friends as a buffer could make a huge impact on your campus experience. It will push you to meet new people and learn about what they are involved in, where they’re from, etc. You never know what connections you can make — the world really is small.
These three things might seem small, but they can add up and help you grow your community on campus and professionally. Some of the best people, events and organizations I’ve encountered have been by recommendation or pure accident or luck. Combining this with your #PRSSbaes and communication courses will make you that much more successful.
Sarah Dougherty is the 2016–2017 vice president of career services and a senior at the University of Alabama. Follow her on Twitter @sarahgdougherty.