Four Ways to Network Before College Graduation

Photo Credit: Kelsey Collister

Between homework, classes and internships it can be very difficult to make connections in the advertising and public relations industry. If you’re aunt works in the marketing department at Chanel, then you should thank your lucky stars. For the rest of us, it’s takes a lot of hard work to network with professionals and find a job. Here are five ways college students can develop relationships with professionals in the industry.

1. Be Active on Social Media Sites

Last night I visited GolinHarris, a public relations agency with Loyola’s PRSSA chapter. Both employees who led the discussion stressed the importance of understanding social networks like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter in order to get an internship or a full-time job. Since many communications firms provide social media management as a service to their clients, it only makes sense that they’d look for candidates who are social media savvy. If you’d really like to work for a specific agency, then consider retweeting their content, liking them on Facebook and connecting with them on LinkedIn. These are a few proactive steps you can take to show initiative.

2. Attend and Plan For Career Fairs

I’ve heard mixed reviews from students and employers about the value of attending career fairs. Some advertising agencies have so many applicants so they don’t really feel a need to attend. While public relations agencies tend to see more value in those events. I’ve also spoken to creatives who aren’t really interested in attending career fairs for a multitude of reasons.

But if you’re on an active job hunt, then by all means go to career fairs until you’re blue in the face. Research the companies that are attending in advance. Identify the specific ones who you’d like to work for. Then once the fair comes around, you won’t waste time talking to just anyone. Also, remember to dress professionally, bring plenty of resumes and shake hands with professionals confidently. Aside from that, tell the recruiter why you’re interested in working at x agency. Let him or her know if you have relevant internship experience. Finally, ask for a business card so that you can follow up after the fair. And don’t forget to smile!

3. Demonstrate Leadership On-Campus

Whether you’re a freshman, or a senior in college it’s imperative to get involved with on campus communications organizations. There are so many clubs to choose from, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Check out your university’s advertising club, PRSSA chapter or campus newspaper. Advertising agencies are looking to hire entry-level employees who have demonstrated leadership in the past through internships and in student organizations. The worst thing you can do is sit on the sidelines, while you’re fellow colleagues swipe away all the leadership positions.

4. Schedule Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are an excellent way to make connections, and establish whether or not you’re interested in working for a company. The difficult part is getting the interview. Some professionals say all you have to do is ask via email, and they’re happy to help.

Truth be told, it takes some serious legwork. The best way to land an informational interview is to find mutual connections. Seek out professors, friends or family members who may know an employee at an agency you’d like to work for. Then email that connection, and ask if they’d be willing to send your resume to their co-worker at the company.

Professionals are much more likely to respond if they recognize the mutual connection. Informational interviews tend to be more free form, so you better have a plan going into it. That’s means prepare questions, practice your elevator pitch and most importantly be yourself.

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