Monday, September 17, 2012

Networking With Your Peers

It’s the first day of class, and there are two types of situations the average person finds themselves in, regardless of their year in school. 

One: You walk in, hoping you’ll see a friend you recognize. No luck. You contemplate where to sit. First row screams suck up; last row implies you’re a slacker. You slowly slip into the nearest seat in the middle row, hoping no one noticed the little debacle that just took place in your head. You attempt to pay attention to the professor, take a few notes, all the while thinking about your plans for the night. Your stomach begins to rumble and by the time class has ended your notebook is filled with a few doodles and you bolt out of the classroom without saying one word. 

The second scenario: You walk in, sit by a friend, and manage to briefly catch up between the doodles and the hunger pains. The rest of the scenario stays the same, but instead, the two of you bolt out of the door together without interacting with any of the other students in the classroom.

What you didn’t realize before you fled from the room to grab that Chick-Fil-A sandwich is the person sitting in front of you, just so happens to work for the Tampa Bay Lightning, your dream internship. Did I mention the person behind you is the recruitment chair for the fraternity you are interested in? Oh, and your professor worked for Apple before choosing to teach at UT and has more than enough connections to get you a full-time job after graduation. The point is we go to class because we have to. I’m guilty of it too. Do you really think I want to sit through two accounting classes as an International Business and Marketing major? But since we have to attend class to receive that prestigious degree, why not make the most of the time in class? Interact with your peers. Networking does not just mean meeting professionals in your field of study. Take advantage of your college experience, and get to know people!

I would not have received any internship positions if I just went through the motions in class. Luckily, I took SPE 208 early on with Dr. Callahan, who emphasized the importance of networking with your peers. So the next time your stomach is making creepy noises that you’re hoping no one can hear; take the time to introduce yourself to individuals in the class, and even meet with the professor afterwards. The cliché saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” has a lot of substance to it; however, I like to think of it as, who you know may get you the job, but what you know will allow you to maintain the position and work your way up. Remember a balance between knowing people and knowing the material is the key to being successful.

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