As an IT student, you are most probably perfectly familiar with computer networking – and stuff like communication, data exchange and resource sharing. But what about student networks? Have you ever tried networking while at university? Let’s dive right in!
Basically, networking as a student is the process of building relationships with other people from your area of study. And no, nothing like a romantic relationship but rather a more formal and professional one. The purpose of introducing yourself to fellow students, professors and certain experts is, that you can severely increase your future career development and job prospects ahead of you.
Furthermore, student networks can help you become more open-minded with your studies while focusing on the practical aspect of your degree. And fear not – problematic, modern requirements for future job application such as writing a motivation letter or preparing for an interview are commonly discussed as well! So what are some good ways to start networking?
Nowadays, almost every university around the world offers an internal network of student clubs. In most cases they are organized by active students, but there are also professors who like to take the initiative. See if you can find a list with some of them online on your faculty website – membership and registration are rarely paid, and you can immediately begin participating in the ongoing activities.
These could be discussions about practical study cases, or project work for an interesting event. You never know, some internship opportunities might come up as well – or even better, industry placements with the aid of your professor and a chance for a full-time position! As for student associations and organisations, they are mostly the same, but usually run by an international network. For European universities you can check out AEGEE-Europe, AIESEC, BEST, ELSA and Erasmus+.
For many students, the on-campus career center usually remains an unknown network up until graduation. In reality, however, it is one of the best places you can get free professional advice for your future development. Pay a visit and get to know the HR experts that are partnering your university.
Best case scenario: You can end up with guided assistance on how to prepare your business card and CV, or maybe even free access to an upcoming job fair or event. Additionally, career centers often cooperate with alumni students and regularly post open positions, offers and recommendations for a bunch of business sectors.
Currently, there are hundreds of different online platforms that can provide you with a network within the industry. On one hand, there is the hugely popular LinkedIn service, that can introduce you, or more precisely your profile, directly to companies. As a form of alternative, there is also the European-based XING platform, but you can still search for other specialised employment websites that can help you with a job – even as a student.
Social media, on the other hand, can be also helpful. It is only a matter of finding the thousands of Facebook groups that inform about internship opportunities, industry placements and youth exchanges. Make sure to search in your native language and ask for information from university assistants and professors as well – they often participate in preparing student-related projects. Last but not least, bigger companies have social media accounts, that promote open job positions and provide details about upcoming seminars, presentations and career days.
Funny or not, your university is the perfect place, and network, to meet new people and make friends during the period of your studies. But while some will only remain a small part of your student experience, others will surely follow you in other chapters of life – during the beginning of your career, for example. Which is, in turn, one of the best moments to test the centuries-old saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed”.
That is, because most of your closer fellows might be already employed by the time you have decided to start with a job. Or even worse, you might be struggling with finding the right career path. Then all of a sudden, your best friend from university suggests to recommend you at his company and quickly sets up a referral. There is a bonus scheme for approved candidates too? The offered position is exactly what you wanted? Now, that is both life and networking done right!