By Ethan Thomas, Communications Management Intern
In just six short months I will be graduating alongside, give or take, 1.6 million undergraduate students attending colleges and universities across the United States. That’s an overall 9 percent increase since 2005 and an incredibly terrifying number of Millennial 20-somethings… but The Institution of Education Sciences says that having some form of a degree in higher education does show a higher percentage of employment than those without. Well, that’s fantastic! The question is: Are all 1.6 million of us going to find one of those jobs? To answer that, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that those with a college degree only have an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent. That’s 10 points lower than those without a degree. OK, I’m starting to like the odds a little better now.
“So I am about to graduate with a degree. Still, with all of these other college grads, how the heck am I supposed to separate myself with a simple resume and cover letter?” Thanks for asking. While I am merely a college senior, I have to tell you, a big piece to this puzzle is networking.
First, we have to be honest with ourselves and ask a few questions. Have you been going to the career fairs at your school? Have you contacted your school about alumni in the field you’re interested in? Have you had any internships? All of these are opportunities to meet more professionals to expand your network and networking are an absolute game changer in terms of finding a job after graduation.
Let’s talk about what networking is not. Networking is not adding more friends or followers on your personal social media. Kudos to you if you get 300 plus likes on an Instagram photo, but that isn’t really helping your cause in finding a job.
Networking is not just handing out your resume or business card and hoping to hear back. You can do the same thing online and will probably have the same negative outcome.
Networking is not only meeting professionals so they can give you a job. Entrepreneur magazine says that networking is how you as an individual can add more value to more people in a shorter amount of time. If you’re trying to network for any other reason, you’re missing the point.
Networking is about building positive and influential relationships. Opportunities arise from these; that’s the real trick. The more impactful professional relationships you have, the more likely your name may come up for a job opportunity. At the end of the day, that’s what you’re looking for.
So, get out there. Join the national society or organization of the industry you’re interested in, attend a career fair, find an internship, or just grab coffee with someone. Do everything you can to meet more professionals for the right reason. Show them that the relationship is a two-way street and you’re not just poaching them for a potential job. It may take some time, but the right opportunity will come your way.