5 Places to Start Building Your Career Connections
Networking For College Can Lead To Opportunities You Never Thought Were Possible…
Yet many students resist building their network until their very last year of high school. Students who start building their career connections early, however, can reach out to a far larger number of people and potentially earn far more opportunities. Because personal networks work like a web, where a friend of a friend can lead to a job years down the line, missing out on networking in high school can lead to a loss of future opportunities.
Thankfully, it’s not hard to build a network!
At the most basic level, a network merely refers to people who you’ve made a connection with. They know who you are, what you’re doing with your life right now, and what you’d like to do with your future. It’s easier than you think to build a network that opens doors you believed were closed.
In this article, we’ll cover five places that high school students should look towards to start their network and how they can go about making the connections that will unlock opportunities down the line!
The Value Of Career Connections
For many, networking can feel like a painstaking process. Yet it’s undeniably one of the most valuable skills you can have in the modern workplace, and getting comfortable with networking while you’re still in high school can give you a head start in college and in the workforce. To build a network simply means to build a wide variety of relationships that can help you later on down the road, both directly in your job search, and in indirect ways such as support and advice.
Building connections early allows you to maximize the number of opportunities you come across. Despite changing standards, many internships and prized entry-level jobs are awarded to those with networked connections first. It’s human nature to help and employ those we already have a relationship with. Learning how you can form solid network relationships is the best way to take advantage of this nature.
The sooner you start practicing networking, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to start making relationships that will directly affect your future. During your junior and senior years of high school, you’ll start building a crucial network with college recruiters, alumni, and potentially even faculty and staff within the colleges you’d like to attend. These relationships can help you in a variety of ways, including landing your first job out of college.
Remember that, when it comes to making connections and networking, you want to get started sooner rather than later.
5 Places To Start Networking In High School
When you first start to practice your networking skills and build relationships, it may feel a little artificial or uncomfortable at first. By staying genuine and making a real effort over time, you can build lasting connections with the adults surrounding you in high school. This first attempt at networking can lead to many benefits, from tangible things like jobs or internships to more subtle changes like increased confidence and charisma.
It’s never too late to start reaching out and connecting with those around you but don’t try to rush and become someone’s best friend. A solid network takes time and effort to build. If you put in the time and treat everyone you meet with respect and a positive outlook, your efforts will lead to a flourishing group of connections and all the benefits that come with it.
Asking your teachers for a letter of recommendation is one of the first ways your networking skills will be tested. Above all, remember that your teachers are human just like you, and that showing respect and interest during class can go a long way to building a good relationship. Being friendly with your teachers can even open up opportunities that other students may not build the relationship necessary to earn; like job recommendations or letters of recommendation for college.
If you work a part-time job during the school year, or even a full-time summer gig, don’t neglect your work network. If you can, maintaining a good relationship with your boss is key to landing recommendations and a good word with future employers. While you can’t be best friends with every boss you have in life, it’s possible to get along with (and perhaps even be friendly towards ) your boss. Even your coworkers can play a crucial role in your network; who doesn’t have more fun at work when they have a positive relationship with their coworkers, after all? Be the type of worker you’d like to be on shift with and your connections at work will begin to feel more genuine and relaxed.
If you land an internship, it can be one of the best ways to boost your network while you’re still in high school. Regardless of whether you intern with a small business or a larger business, treat those around you with respect and gratitude. Internships are an excellent position to be in, one where you can both learn the ropes and potentially land yourself a paid position in the future.
Building a solid relationship with your coaches may feel like second nature if you’re particularly passionate about your sport, or even just passionate about fitness in general. Colleges love to see a diversity of extracurricular activities, and involvement in outside sporting events can help your college application tell a cohesive story and show your dedication. Your coaches will know more about local opportunities you won’t want to miss, and their support and advice can make the rough patches of high school feel a little more manageable.
There’s a reason “it’s a small world” is a common refrain, and when you start networking you should take advantage of this phenomenon. You never know who your family friends, peers, and college counselor may know. If you have your eye on attending a particular college, entering a certain field, or living in a certain area, make sure your network knows about your plans.
For example, if you want to attend law school, make sure your network knows this. If someone asks your aunt’s best friend if they know anyone looking for an internship with a local law firm, she may remember your name and put in a good word based solely on what she knows about you through your aunt. Your network may branch out farther than you know, and you may find yourself connected to jobs and opportunities from a friend of a friend far more often than you expect.
Don’t Wait To Reach Out
As we said before, it’s never too late to start networking. Yet real connections take time to build. Even more than time, you must treat everyone with respect and always be generous with your own network. Just as you grow your connections and rely on those you know to help you secure interviews, internships, and other perks, you should do everything you can to help those who reach out to you. In the world of networking, “paying it forward” is a solid practice that gives you a good reputation.
Our WeAdmit counselors believe in the power of building real connections, and we’d love to help you build your network and bring you into ours. We work with you to identify your goals for college, and we’ll help you figure out how to best use your connections to increase your chances of landing interviews and giving your college applications the best opportunities for success.
After All, Even A Single Connection Can Be The Start Of Your Network!
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