Not sure if you’re ready to attend ASK Night? You are! Here are some typical students we encourage to come to the event and some tips for success:
Which type sounds more like you?
I-Don’t-Have-A-Clue: This could be a first year student or a graduating senior, and they worry that they have to have made some clear decisions about their career path in order to start networking with people. But networking is a great tool for discovering what you want to do with your life, and what better place to start than with a group of people whose sole mission for the evening is to talk to students about the kind of work they do. A great opening line for these students? “I’m still gathering information about different career paths – what did you do to learn about different options?”
I-Can’t-Make-Up-My-Mind: This student has done some exploring and has some areas of interest, but can’t pick between them. That’s quite all right – many alumni can definitely relate! A great question for these students to ask? “I’m debating between a few different directions – how did you decide the right path for you?”
I’m-Scared-To-Talk-To-People: For these students an event like ASK Night is the perfect place to start. Consider it networking with training wheels. This is the only kind of networking event where the entire room of professionals is there simply to help students. Because they are alumni there is an automatic connection. Plus, CES staff will be on hand to help make introductions. A great tip for these students? Research beforehand and know who you’d like to meet, and then ask a CES staff member to help you approach them.
I’m-Ready! Let-Me-At-‘Em: These students certainly know what they want! But often we see these same eager students walk away disappointed. Why? “There was nobody there representing my field/my target professional didn’t make it to the event.” We remind these students that networking is about making connections with a broad group of people because it’s not necessarily about what these folks do, but who they know.
Each person has a personal network of contacts and every interaction is an opportunity to tap into that group. For example, the Computer Science student who ends up talking to a Religion major might be surprised to find out that her husband’s sister works for a technology company. Also, all alumni have been in the same spot current students are – they can share their stories of navigating a job search. A great suggestion for these students? Talk to everybody, show sincere interest in them as people, and let them know what your goals are.
Actually, all of these tactics are useful no matter where you are in your career search. Whether you’re still trying to figure out what your options are, or you are actively engaged in a job search, you can get something of value from ASK Night. We hope to see you there!
© 2009 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound
Photo: Ross Mulhausen