The Gustavian Weekly

Networking works - The Gustavian Weekly

By Lauren Casey - Opinion Columnist | March 13, 2020 | Opinion

Two Gustavus students networking at the GWIL conference.

Two Gustavus students networking at the GWIL conference.

With job and internship hunting season in full swing, it can be stressful leaving your future job in the hands of an electronic application which recruiters see hundreds of everyday. I don’t think any of us are unfamiliar with the word networking, but some may be unfamiliar with how to do it.
Networking truly does work, and I am living proof. Whether it be joining organizations here on campus to connect us with people, provide opportunities to network, or to take it upon ourselves to go out and do it, networking is far more effective and worthwhile than applying aimlessly for jobs where we don’t even read the description all the way through.
This past fall I had the opportunity to be Kathi Tunheim’s HR intern, and instead of typical clerical tasks, she tasked me with visiting 15 different people at 15 different companies. This journey took me to places like Cantel Medical, Lifetime Fitness, EcoLab, Post Consumer Brands, Minneapolis Heart Institute, Boom Lab, Optum, Quality Bicycle Products, etc. By the end of the semester, I could have had a new major in driving with a minor in navigating downtown one ways.
The thought of having to reach out to strangers, and go meet them, was terrifying–but it worked. College students underestimate networking, but I saw just how valuable it was and learned things about companies that you can’t look up on the internet.
I also witnessed unique benefits like bringing your dog to work, a full basketball court in the building, a fridge fully stocked with Bubbly, and a full cereal and milk bar (this was Post, anywhere else it would have been weird). I was not expecting anything in return from this project, and the plan was to start applying for HR jobs in the spring, but just as we have heard the stories of Gusties planning to do one thing and end up doing something completely different, that is what happened to me.
If I had not gone out of my comfort zone and gotten lost in the skyways of downtown Minneapolis resulting in arriving at Sculpt Fitness instead of ThreeBridge, I wouldn’t be able to say I will be working at a great company called Boom Lab as a project management associate because of the thirty minute informational interview that turned into a full blown interview process. I am so thankful for the Gustavus network and organizations that helped me make my connections.
For example, the Gustavus Mentoring program is a great organization to join for networking. The mentors in the mentoring program voluntarily joined the program because they are eager to help Gusties reach their career goals.
“Being able to talk to someone who truly wants to help me made it easier for me to learn how to mentor. It created a great environment for to me learn how to network,” Senior Mitch Munson said.
The option to keep your same mentor all three years or meet someone new each year, allows for the chance to grow your network.
“Having three different mentors over the years has opened a huge network for me to talk to. My mentors have been awesome trying to find people in their network that I could talk to,” Munson said. Getting a job these days is all about a guy who knows a guy, and who you know not what you know (although I’d say it matters what you know if you’re trying to be a doctor as an econ major)” Munson said.
Gustavus Women in Leadership just celebrated ten years at their recent conference. GWiL is not only for women and management majors, as it’s commonly thought to be, it is open to all majors and genders. This year, I attended the conference and met so many alumni who had connections in common with me. I even met a future co-worker of mine who currently goes to St. Olaf and happened to be there because her mom was one of the speakers. The world is a lot smaller than we think. Going to events with alumni and being able to put your name out there is what gets the ball rolling, and keeps you in the minds of those who know there are jobs open.
“GWiL has expanded my network by inviting Gustavus alumni back to campus for a variety of events. GWiL is also closely connected to the National Advisory Board, which is made up of Gustie alums who have been a part of GWiL. Not only did these events connect me with mentors, it also opened my eyes to many career opportunities,” Senior ReAnn Eidahl said.
GWIL members and alumni are a close knit group who I’ve come to know well just by attending various events, and a lot of them are the ones I contacted first for my networking journey in the fall.
The last tip to networking is to jump out of the safety of the Gustie bubble and do it. In this day and age, leaving a voicemail is scary, so the thought of cold calling a stranger and meeting up with them in unknown territory is out of the question to a lot of people. Through this process, I learned most college students have this mindset because the professionals I met with said I was the first college student they’ve seen do this.
“Networking is scary because meeting new people is nerve wracking since you want to make a good first impression. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone though a lot of people are scared of putting themselves out there and getting rejected,” Sophomore Maria Jennissenn said.
Gusties, this is where you can set yourself apart, and really get to know what kind of environment you want to work in. When you go out to different companies, you can feel the culture and if you like the vibe, get a taste of life after college, go on a tour of the place that you wouldn’t typically get at an interview, and experience the stressfully expensive parking situation in its entirety. The Gustavus alumni network is more valuable than most know, and a privilege we have here on the Hill.
Gusties help Gusties, so go on your LinkedIn and use your stalking skills to find former Gusties in your field to grab coffee with. I promise you, they are more than happy to have a reason to take time out of their possibly boring work day to find out what’s new on the Hill and help you at the same time. That being said, utilize every medium; LinkedIn, slide into some Instagram DMs of people that work at companies of interest (I did), ask for phone numbers, heck, even give Bumble Networking a go. You never know what good can come out of extending yourself.

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