My hands shook; my head was an emotional mess. The worst of the worst happened; I hit a car. Not all turned out bad—yes, I had a hefty bill to pay—but I got my first taste of networking.
As college students, we hear the word “networking” all the time, but what does it really mean? In the simplest terms, it’s making connections with professionals in career fields. That’s not wrong, but networking can be interpreted differently depending on who you ask. Some say it’s making the connections with the right people, while others say it is turning to professionals to gain job insight. There is no right answer; networking encompasses a variety of methods to get to where we want to be.
How could hitting a car turn into networking? Simple: the owner of the car just happened to be retired journalist Bob Burdick, former editor-in-chief of The Rocky Mountain News. If that’s not coincidental, I don’t know what is.
I now had a name; a name that could open up some doors for me as I moved forward into college and my journalism career. Months later, I met Burdick and a colleague of his, Rob Reuteman, a professor of newswriting, as well as a former business writer for The Rocky Mountain News. I would consider this my first real networking experience, talking with two journalism professionals, getting their opinions on what it takes to break into and make it in the industry.
To Burdick, retired or active professionals can offer insight gained through their experiences and thereby provide effective shortcuts to help prepare young professionals in their careers.
That’s exactly what happened next, Burdick gave me the name of Suzanne Brown, a fashion journalist for The Denver Post, in the hopes that I could potentially shadow her to see what my potential career choice entailed. I followed through and shadowed her a few months later, and needless to say, it made me look forward to my career goal even more.
“It is important to ask questions, though, so you obtain information you need, not merely what someone thinks you need,” Burdick says.
Reuteman, on the other hand, believes that so many aspects of life happen because of who we know, not what we know. In many cases in today’s society, this is how dream jobs are achieved, by making the right connections with the right people.
“Students must bridge that gap, must cast a wide net, and effective networking will get them where they need to be,” Reuteman says.
How can you begin networking? Join career oriented organizations. Volunteer. Talk to as many people as you can in as many different situations as you can. You never know who (or what) will open up the right doors for you.
College Avenue reporter Alexa Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. . Look for the Interviewing Guide issue of College Avenue on racks Mar. 12!