Thrive on Campus//

How Networking Became My Best Friend in College

An insight from a business student’s perspective on building key relationships to advance your career.

Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

A common misconception everyone has is the idea that college is way easier when you’re majoring in business. I’m here to shed light on what it’s really like to be a business student. As true for almost everything in life, there are positives and negatives. I’m fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to be a full-time student at Texas A&M University, in Mays Business School. Our Business school is recognized as one of the top ranked undergraduate and graduate programs throughout the nation. As I’m nearing the end of my undergraduate career, I’ve been reflecting on my journey since freshman year. 

It wasn’t in the game plan for me to enter the world of business. In fact, I was pursuing a career in the medical field. I have always excelled in science courses throughout high school and had more interest in my anatomy class than any of my math courses. With much deliberation, I realized my potential as a business major and set foot onto this path without prior knowledge or any connection to the corporate world. It was as if I were Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia entering the wardrobe for the first time (if you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend). Everything felt foreign and very intimidating, especially when you’re surrounded by men and women in professional attire. Although that wasn’t always the case, I still felt aloof compared to my peers that walked with sheer confidence and determination.

As someone that plans and organizes her day to day activities, I felt anxious not being certain of my focus of study. In Business, there are several different subjects such as Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management. While discovering these classes throughout college, I found my niche in Supply Chain Management with a minor in Sociology. After taking my first Intro to Sociology course, I knew I was passionate about the intricacies in our society. Combining my business skills and knowledge about societal issues, I’d be able to work more effectively in the real world.

While figuring out which major to declare is a natural process in school, I’ve found it more important to learn key skills every business leader NEEDS in order to succeed. One of them is knowing how to network and who to network with. Professors will repeat a million times how beneficial networking can be, but you wouldn’t know until you try for yourself. Networking is being present at various events where company professionals attend, gaining the courage to introduce yourself, and leaving a lasting impression. The end goal is to build a professional relationship with leaders in the industry that may help guide and recognize your potential in the future.

One of my recent encounters while networking has been a memorable experience and I hope it inspires you to step out of your comfort zone. Professionals from the multinational tech company, Google, visited our business school for the first time this year and I dove into the opportunity by RSVP’ing for the event. When I arrived, my goal was gaining more insight into the work environment at Google and learning about the people that work for the company.

During the informational, I took notes and paid close attention to stories the speakers shared. It’s crucial to find a connection with presenters in order to have a more meaningful conversation when you introduce yourself. I participated in an ice breaker game, introducing myself to everyone in the conference hall. Stating my name, major, hometown, and a fun fact about myself was enough to catch an employee’s attention. Later when I approached her for a one on one, she recognized me from the fun fact that I shared during the game. After conversing and being my authentic self, she said, “You’ve had one of the most interesting stories tonight. Let me get your contact information.”

In that moment, my eyes lit up and I was proud of my efforts. To have a recruiter be interested in you is a monumental achievement as a business student because most of your time during Junior and Senior year is searching for internships and jobs. While that is a part of every student’s career, business students are held to a higher standard in networking and building those key relationships with companies in order to shine brighter than other candidates.

Over the years, I’ve attended plenty of networking events and grew from my mistakes when I first started. Each experience different from the other, but I’ve learned to seize opportunities in front of me and going out of my comfort zone with a leap of faith. Being in business requires skills that aren’t always taught in class, they’re acquired through various experiences and strengthened by consistent efforts. 

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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