The COVID-19 experience has created a great deal of stress and uncertainty for students who are about to graduate next week or who are graduating in the class of 2021. Those with jobs are asking, “Will my employer honor the offer they made? Will my start date get delayed? Will my offer get reduced? Will my company still be in existence?” Juniors seeking internships or with secured internships are seeing their experiences transition from in person all summer to virtual or to a shortened experience, or in some cases canceled in whole. For everyone in the marketplace the only thing that is guaranteed is a high level of stress. Things feel outside of our control and in many cases they are. What we can control is how we respond. During times of career uncertainty the best insurance is to continue to connect and build the foundation of your professional network. Lifelong learning should be something deeply ingrained in the Kelley experience and connecting professionally is another way to continue learning about an industry, company, role or even more about yourself. Strengthening your professional network and relationships is important during times of economic uncertainty but really a skill to practice in times of economic strength as well. Here are a few ways to maximize your success when developing your professional network whether you have secured an opportunity or not.
- Set a goal for the # of people you plan to connect with in a week/month/this summer. Track it!
- Block time out of your day for connecting.
- Start close to home, think about family, friends of family, Uncle Tony who’s not really an Uncle, people you already know.
- Deep dive on a specific industry or industry sector – join groups related to your target industry on LinkedIn – Read what they have to say – engage in the conversation!
- Reach out to professionals who have written articles you’ve enjoyed.
- Ask for time to learn about a person’s role, their experience with a company, in an industry.
- Take the time to write notes to people who have assisted you with your career aspirations in the past.
- Talk to colleagues from school who are in a role you’re interested in.
- Ask colleagues if they know anyone in the role/firm/industry that you’re interested in.
- Ask someone you know at a target firm if they’d be willing to put on a mini info session for a group of peers.
- Check in with peers/ professionals that you’ve contacted in the past/ ask if they’re well – Showing that you value a relationship beyond what that person can do for you is imperative to developing a long lasting relationship.
- Talk to the IU Alumni Chapter head in your target geography.
- Volunteer! Having a common set of values is what solidifies relationships. Invite others to volunteer with you!
- Work with your career coach to plan your approach!
Notice, nowhere in the examples above did job applications come up. If you have a job we encourage you to continue to develop your professional network. We are not encouraging you to continue to recruit. For those of you new to this process please know, developing your professional connections can seem overwhelming at first. Just like anything else, you get better with practice.
Remember, we at the UCS are here to help! If you have questions about developing your professional network please don’t hesitate to make an appointment or reach out directly to any of the coaches on our coaching team.