When I first got to college I was very GPA oriented. My parents advised me that my goals in college should not just be about achieving classroom success, but also about meeting people. But, like most things your elders say it passed right over my head. I was a social person. There were tons of people on campus. Obviously, I’d meet new people naturally. Why would I make that a goal? But, as a 4th year I can finally admit that they were right.
Networking is important. When my parents told me that I should be continuously meeting people they were really encouraging me to network. Networking sounds intimidating, but the word is multi-purposeful. It’s not just a recruitment term. Successful networking happens when you meet new people and you use your web of resources and their web of resources for both of your benefits. It should always be mutualistic. It’s important to network throughout school for academic success. When you study with a new classmate, you’re successfully networking. The knowledge you bring to the session is different than the insight your classmate will bring. But, by the end of the day you’ll both possess the same knowledge. Many people don’t realize that at a base level the skills we use to form study groups are the same skills we’ll use one day to get a job.
I realized this when I first began recruiting for internships. Anyone who knows anything about public accounting recruiting, will tell you networking is the most important skill you need to get your dream internship. The process consist of three weeks of “social events.” Every person you meet and every interaction you have matters. Don’t let the casualness of the climate fool you. These events aren’t just social they’re your interview. By the time I got to office visits, because I had successfully networked I didn’t even get asked any interview questions. They already knew which students they were interested in hiring by then. This climate is exactly why one of your biggest goals in college should be to “learn to meet new people.” It’s the practice round for the real world. College is important because it is the only rehearsal you get for learning how to quickly make connections. So, the next time someone invites you to a social gathering, info session, or new study group say yes. It’ll help you in the present and the future.