Friday, November 20, 2020

Identifying Your Network


Identifying Your Network

Networking is in. Passivity on general job-search engines is out! (sorry Indeed lovers) 

The labour market requires students to be dynamic with their approach to job searching. This means reaching out to professionals in fields that spark interest. Networking also allows you to narrow your desired position to what you value from the position and the organization. Yes, you are looking for a job – but the employer also is looking for you! Additionally, a network is fluid with the concept of branding. In a competitive job market, how can you individualize your professional self to be enticing to a potential employer? Remember you’re making connections for valuable information, but also for potential job openings. You could have a simpler time finding a position through individuals in your network than a general job search on Indeed.  

The initial and most important move for your networking is to identify your network. Realistically, you should be telling everyone you come across what your goals are for the workforce and post-academia. You never know “who knows who” because it may not be bluntly apparent or obvious. When I consider this, I think about my roommate who is a teaching assistant in the psychology program at Brock. Some students would have had no clue who their TA was if they hadn’t been introduced, based on her youthfulness. It is a funny story that offers some insight to the fact that one person can connect you to many people. A TA is connected to other TAs in that program in different years, professors, classmates of their own, different individuals in the Brock community, and then everyone in their own personal network. In summary, starting with your Brock community is a great place to begin because these are like-minded individuals who are in or were previously in your shoes.  

Regarding your Brock community, we recommend careful consideration of organizations or program memberships that you withhold. Are you part of a workshop through Experience Plus? For example, Brock Leads has a four-part workshop currently underway. This is an example of a perfect networking opportunity with students you may not otherwise come into “contact” with. Secondly, what organizations are you involved with that are listed on your Degree Exploration Guide (i.e., ONA – Ontario Nurses Association or Canadian Association of Journalists)?  Whatever your associations of interest are, do not be afraid to put yourself out there.  With some rapport, you can start asking and stating things like, “I am an undergraduate student in Media and Communication Studies. I really want to know what it would be like being a communications rep for a Toronto organization, so I am in the market for discovering what that could be like.” Additionally, there is a fantastic program called 10 Thousand Coffees that has a partnership with Brock. With a very simple sign-up, you get connected to Brock University Alumni that can provide you with customized insight to your questions and interests with global and local talent. And even more, you will receive a LinkedIn certificate outlining your commitment to a growth mindset, which will count as volunteer experience.  

With respect to your identity outside of your student cap, consider other relational or personal associations you are involved in. In your personal life, this may include your volunteer experiences, the arts community, parents/guardians, relatives, siblings, friends, neighbors, your local restaurant owner, et cetera. With that, it may be wise to choose those who have a good social network themselves (I.e., teachers within the community).  

In a time where virtual interaction is prioritized, there is a need for students to build their networks. Virtual networking can be much easier, and it allows for more flexibility. Not to mention, we are all in need of social interaction, and we hope that whoever you choose is eager to interact with people just as much as we miss interacting with you face-to-face at CareerZone in Guernsey Market.  

A non-exhaustive list: 

  1. Family 
  2. Friends 
  3. Neighbors 
  4. Brock Community 
  5. Geographical Community (i.e., local councilor, local teacher, local store owner, community events, etc.) 
  6. Professional Associations or Memberships 
  7. Personal Association or Memberships (i.e., book club, volleyball league, city council, church, etc.) 
  8. Workshops 
  9. CareerZone at Brock University 
  10. 10 Thousand Coffees and LinkedIn 
  11. Different age groups for all listed above ^ 
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Written by Lisa Brown, Career Assistant and Blog Manager
Edited by Kara Renaud, Supervisor of Career Education, CCEE Department