Networking: An Interview with Career Services
CM: Constance McDonnell, Director, Career Services
FG: Frank Gilmartin, Assistant Director
CC: Candice Clifford, Career Services Intern
1. In general, how does the Office of Career Services serve students?
CM: The Office of Career Services provides professional development services to all students and alumni of The University of Scranton. We offer services such as selecting a major, changing a major, career development, resume and cover letter writing, mock interviews, and how to present oneself professionally.
2. Why is networking important?
CM: Networking is a critical skill to learn and is becoming increasingly important in this challenging job market. According to survey data, it is one of the most important skills in securing a job.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducted a survey of students from the class of 2009. This survey showed that 38% of these students found networking to be “extremely useful” in their developing their career. Another survey conducted by Forbes Magazine in 2010 found that 41% of respondents believed networking was the most important part of securing a job.
FG: A student's initial networking activity here at The University of Scranton builds a bridge between campus and the world of work
3. How can students start to network on campus? Other opportunities?
CM: Students can network on campus by registering and attending employer information sessions, alumni panels, the KSOM Recruiting Expo and the Career Services Carnival.
Another great way to network is with leadership positions on campus, both professional and informal. Students could find a leadership role in a club, do research with professors or find internships on campus. For example, Career Services has four interns who receive academic credit for their work with us.
4. What resources are available to help students prepare and start to network?
CM: We will begin working with a student on how to properly network. Say, for example, they want to secure an internship. We will help them develop their “elevator speech,” learn how to present themselves and how to interact professionally.
CC: Social media is also a valuable resource for networking. Students should be encouraged to get on LinkedIn, a professional networking website, to connect with employers and alumni and see what is out there in terms of jobs in the business world.
FG: The University of Scranton's alumni online community is a valuable resource. Our alumni community is a tremendously loyal group that are willing to help students build a network and a career.
What are some pitfalls students encounter when networking?
CM: Not networking in a professional manner could ruin a relationship. That's why it's important for students to come to career services and learn how to network properly. For example, students need to know when to approach someone and in what manner to approach them.
Professionals also may not move at the pace students are used to. It's important for students to not get frustrated when someone fails to get in touch with them five minutes later. It's about creating a relationship and letting it develop naturally.
CC: In terms of social media, I believe 45% of businesses are now doing background checks on websites like Facebook and Twitter. While social media is great for networking, its also important for students to not post anything on these websites that they would not like an employer to see.
6. How can students use their personal networks to their advantage?
CM: Networking is always an advantage if done properly. If students are interested in finding an internship or a job, they can use their personal networks to talk to as many people as possible. If they get the word out that they will be looking for a job in the future, its certainly a good way to get started.
7. What are some ways students can tap into the Scranton network?
CM: The University of Scranton is a very friendly, encouraging community. Students can tap into the Scranton network by joining the Scranton Alumni network on LinkedIn. Students are also encouraged to use the alumni directory to contact alumni working in their field.
CC: The Alumni Association also has a Twitter account that students can follow for updates.
FG: Whenever the opportunity presents itself, students should return to campus. There are reunions every year here in Scranton and the Office of Alumni Relations also holds local events on almost a monthly basis. These reunions are a great opportunity to do face-to-face networking.
8. How can parents encourage and support their students as they build their network?
CM: Parents should make sure their student understands the value of networking. Parents can ask their friends or colleagues if their child can shadow them to learn about day-to-day operations in a certain industry.
Parents can also model networking and show their students how it's done. The upcoming holidays are a great opportunity to students and parents to network with family, someone at your church or in your community. Networking is about building bonds and creating a lasting community.