Build a Network

You have probably heard of the term “networking” and how important it is within the world of work. Whether you are looking for a summer internship, making a career transition or seeking a full-time job upon graduation, knowing the right professionals is a key strategy in helping you achieve your career goals. Read the information below to better understand what networking is and see why it’s less intimidating than you may think.

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  • Developing meaningful connections with a variety of people both in and out of your career field.
  • Building a “net” of people where career-related information can be shared such as best practices, new trends and, ideally, job/internship opportunities.
  • Networking can happen anytime and anywhere — in your classes, during dinner with relatives, in line at a coffee shop, online or social media sites.
  • 80% of jobs are found through networking
  • Learn about careers, new trends in the industry and job/internship opportunities
  • Develop your communication skills
  • Increase your marketability
  • Your circle, including friends, family/relatives, student peers, work colleagues, etc.
  • Academic classes. You would be surprised how well-connected many of your instructors are within their field (and how many employers reach out to instructors for candidates).
  • Networking events such as the OCC Job Fair, departmental events, club events, etc.
  • Volunteering at events where employers may be present. (It’s less intimidating to network if you’re also there to “do a job.”)
  • Professional associations related to your field
  • Student clubs and organizations, many of which invite professionals as guest speakers
  • Internships, part-time jobs and job shadowing

Informational interviews are a fantastic way to explore careers and companies while engaging in high-quality, one-on-one networking. Use the Conduct Informational Interviews handout to learn more about how to schedule these, what to say and how to maintain the connection.

LinkedIn is a great social media tool for professionals that allows you to virtually connect with OCC students and alumni*, as well as professionals that are working at companies or in fields of interest. You can even connect and send a private message to specific people to ask for an informational interview. LinkedIn’s student resource page offers tips on creating your profile, reaching out to people, building your professional brand, looking for jobs and more.

*To look up OCC students/alumni specifically, follow these instructions:

  • Log in or create a new account on LinkedIn, following the prompts to create your profile.
  • In the search bar at the top of the page, type “Orange Coast College” and from the drop-down menu that appears, select “Orange Coast College – School – Orange County, CA”
  • Scroll down to the “Career Insights” section and click on “See all career insights.”
  • Try different search criteria such as: Where they live; Where they work; What they do. If you select the “Next” arrow, you’ll see What they studied and What they are skilled at.
  • Explore the profiles of thousands of alumni according to your interests and make sure to Connect with people that may be beneficial to have in your network.
  • Consider your strengths and personality to determine the best types of networking to engage in. Do you enjoy large events, meeting one-on-one, connecting virtually or another method?
  • Be yourself! Remember that you are simply having a conversation about something you’re interested in and the more authentic you are, the more people will want to connect with you (and help you!). Also, remember that seasoned professionals were once novices who needed guidance (like you) and many want to assist others to “pay it forward.”
  • It’s less about “selling yourself” and more about asking good questions to form a relationship.
  • After meeting with a professional for the first time, send an email or handwritten thank you note. This can greatly set you apart from the pack.
  • Make sure to follow up with new contacts via email, phone calls, LinkedIn, business cards, etc.
  • Set goals for yourself, such as “I will complete one informational interview with someone this semester.”
  • Job fair tips:
    • Prepare for the fair by researching attending companies and the positions they are recruiting for.
    • Take breaks throughout the event and breathe.
    • Go with a friend or plan to call a friend before/after the event for support.

Ready to network? Check out information on upcoming job fairs and recruiting events.

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