It’s Not About What You Know, It’s Who You Know

It’s an all-too-common story: student works hard and earns A’s throughout their four years of college, takes on an internship, takes part in activities that will be an asset to their resume, graduates… and then cannot find a job.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Labor, networking accounts for at least 69 percent of all annual hires. This is not surprising when we stop and think about all of the times we have seen someone who is less qualified than us get that coveted summer job. The saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know” seems to ring true in times like these.

This means that besides working to earn top grades, students also need to put their best face forward and get to know their professors, alumni, bosses, and even friends on a more personal level so when the time comes, they could be the ones to put in the word that will land them a career.

Unfortunately, there are many students that take the benefits of networking for granted. Some students wait until their senior year to start developing relationships with their peers, coworkers, professors, and alumni. They always seem to think that the best time to start networking is tomorrow, when really it is today.

One thing that students can do to take a step closer to their alumni is to join our very own Student Alumni Association, which is a service organization encouraged by the Office of Alumni Affairs to provide a link between students and alumni. They sponsor a variety of activities for current and past students to get to know one another. However, since the benefit for students is so great, students must apply and interview to be a part of the Student Alumni Association.

Another easy thing for students to do is take advantage of social networking sites on a more professional level by creating a LinkedIn account. According to a study by Performics, almost 60 percent of active social networkers said that it is important to have a LinkedIn account.

Of the 3,000 respondents with active LinkedIn accounts, 50 percent visit the site weekly and 20 percent visit it daily. Students should make a LinkedIn account even if they think it may be a little early to have one and search for their professors, bosses and alumni.

However, not all networking should be through a computer screen. It’s extremely important to have good people and communication skills: no one wants to work with the graduate who can’t hold a decent conversation.

Internships are also an easy and effective way to network. Sometimes, it gets a little hard to stay on task when you know you’re not getting paid (as several internships are) and you’re doing work that you didn’t see in your internship fantasy, like getting coffee and making photocopies. However, it’s important to keep your chin up and make the best coffee your employer ever drank, because that could be your ticket into the office once you graduate.

The University also should hold more specialized career fairs for each department rather than one big, unorganized job fair. Last year, the Communication department held its first annual Communication Career Event where students could attend discussions with alumni who now work in the job field they want to someday be a part of and speak with the alumni afterwards.

There was also an Internship Fair following where students could meet potential bosses and apply for internships. There needs to be more fairs and events like this, and more students need to take advantage of them.

The path to finding a career in this less-than-ideal job market can be helped with the efforts of students and the University alike. Students need to take advantage of the career fairs that the University does offer, as well as getting on their feet and start talking to their alumni and professors and put themselves out there. Being shy or lazy is no longer an option.