The Power of Networking

Created by: Katie Smith, 2012-2013 Career Advising Fellow

Fact: Approximately 80% of professionals find their jobs through networking, whereas about 20% find theirs through posted opening.

Today, internship and job search success is often based on networking, a concept that we are constantly talking to students about at the Student Professional Development Center. From using online networking resources such as LinkedIn and the Elon Mentor Network to students simply getting to know their classmates, networking can be ever-powerful, often leading to professional opportunities and experiences.

Last week, Michele Kleckner, my collaborating faculty member for the Transitions Strategies course arranged two alumni sessions for current Computer Science and Information Science students. In the first session, a virtual Google Hangout Q&A, students spoke with recent alumni now working at Google, Prometheus Group (in Amsterdam), and Seamless Technologies. Students asked a range of questions and all three alumni shared their unique paths and perspectives, giving advice on a variety of topics.

Following the virtual session, four local alumni visited the students and shared their paths and experiences in the field. Representing companies and institutions such as Wireless Generation, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, IBM, and Credit Suisse, the four alumni gave students recommendations for finding jobs and making themselves marketable. “If you don’t know what big data is, find out,” they recommended to the CSC students.

Computer and information science students speak to alumni virtually

Students were impressed with the alumni, actively listening to their advice and making connections. “You created Nerd Wars?!” they asked, impressed that their predecessors had developed the game notorious among Elon CSC students. The alumni enjoyed the conversation as well, now experts even just a few years out of Elon.

Alumni imparted advice such as the importance of showing an ability to self-start and create. “Having a good GPA,” an alumnus said, “proves that you can handle the material and if you can do it at school, you can probably do it at a job.” “Get an internship,” another alumnus recommended, “having enough drive to get a job before you get a job says a lot about you.”  A third alumnus made the class laugh as he recommended, “Listen in Joel’s class, you’ll actually use that stuff.”

After speaking directly with the alumni, student attendees now have valuable connections at fantastic companies, as well as an inside perspective to the skills that professionals are looking for from students entering the fields of computer and information science. Visiting alumni shared their contact information, ready and enthusiastic to help students get started in the field, just as they had done as Elon students themselves. In just a few years, current students will be in the same place to continue the chain, helping future students find their next steps.

Networking. It’s a powerful thing.

Alumni share their experiences with current students

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