Networking is something that colleges encourage you to do during your academic years. It highlights the importance of the “who you know, not what you know” factor, as well as allowing you to get your foot in the door of your dream job after college.
International Student Voice defines networking as: “establishing relationships with other people. These relationships can then help advance yourself, such as getting a job.” Networking is especially important for international students for a variety of reasons.
Mina Porayz of the Northeastern University Career Development Blog found that networking allowed her to learn more about American culture and its population. Not only is it important to network with those who were born and raised in the United States, but also those who are from other parts of the world. Finding out how others are dealing with life in another country and the adjustments that they have had to make from one culture to another provides you with greater cultural experience through your wider knowledge and perspectives on other matters.
Whilst international students tend to find socializing and learning about new cultures an easy task, due to the fact that socializing is a key stepping stone into professional networking, ultimately – and hopefully – leading to a future career in your desired field of work.
Keeping an up to date career profile, such as LinkedIn or an e-Portfolio, allows all your records, experience and background information to be shared all in one place. As well as the fact that it will be able to stay up to date and relevant to the career field you are aiming for.
International Student Blog highlighted the importance of keeping a clean and up to date online portfolio; “if your parents can look through your Facebook and not be embarrassed of anything that is posted, then it’s likely safe for potential employers to see”.
Sponsorships & Opportunities
Along with the fact of a wider perspective of culture, international students also benefit from the potential of having a sponsored visa to stay in the U.S. when they have completed their studies. Regardless of their plans after college, having a backup plan for either returning to your own country or staying in the U.S. will keep your options open, regardless of the situation that you fall into. Networking comes into play here with the added security of both a job and a legal working visa.
On a non-professional side, networking allows the opportunity to build a close support system. Particularly for international students, living and studying away from home it can be hard to find people to not only trust, but also rely on. Branching out to new groups of people not only gets your foot in the door but also allows deeper connections that can go beyond a work or professional level. These connections can be found through clubs, organizations, honor societies, study groups and volunteering efforts around the college community.
Networking is not only a foot in the door technique, but also a way to find and form connections that can be cherished and utilized all throughout your adult life. Being up to date and open to forming new connections will open up new doors for you, more than you may initially realize.