Molly Wiley graduated from Assumption College in May 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Minor in International Business. Molly currently works in the Field Marketing department for Dunkin’ Brands. Below are some insights from her about how networking can be a critical in your success after graduation.
When it’s a Thursday night the last thing you want to do is dress up in your nicest business suit, print out your resume & go talk to a group of strangers who you’ve never met before at the Career Networking Dinner in Hagan, but do it. Networking is the single most important thing you can do for your career and your life, and the best way to be successful at it is to practice. I work at Dunkin’ Brands — a.k.a. Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin’ Robbins — in Field Marketing (I had never heard of it before either), and I have one of the best jobs on the planet, hands down. I got where I am through networking, but no matter how many times my professors told me about it, I didn’t understand how important it was until I was in the moment realizing that my first impression and what came after it could change the trajectory for the rest of my life.
While at Assumption I was involved in EVERYTHING. If you could apply or be elected for a position, I was competing for it. Between being Class President eventually leading to SGA President, being an Orientation Leader for two summers, playing intramural soccer and softball seasons leading to championships (my face should still be on the wall in Plourde, thanks very much), to my work study, I didn’t have time to breathe let alone network. If you’re reading this you may be scrolling through your iPhone before falling asleep or in between classes thinking about all the things you have to do today, tomorrow, next week. BUT networking is something you should be thinking about too.
Some people are lucky enough to have connections to companies from relatives, previous employers, etc. But when I stepped into Career Networking Night in 2011 I was hoping that night would help to get me on a path of success after graduation. Boy did it ever. I sat at my now Vice President’s table not knowing what the future would hold. He talked to the whole table that night and found out their interests, majors, extracurricular activities, etc. He also shared some top tips with us about looking for a job or internship. He left us with his business card and said to get in touch for an informational interview. I had never heard that terminology before, but I had a golden ticket that included his phone number and email address.
To this day he jokes that I sent him my resume before he left the parking lot, but my eagerness and professionalism paid off. I sent him my resume, ended up interviewing for a paid internship position, worked at Dunkin’ Brands the summer going into my senior year, was hired after graduation, and the rest is history. How did this happen and work out for me? Networking. I put on the suit and skipped a night at Leit’s with my friends to change my future, it was worth it.
This article is titled five ways networking can change your life so here it goes:
- Learning How to Go Outside Your Comfort Zone and Make Tough Decisions
There’s a saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Remember this when you have to make a decision about your major, your career, or something that you know is a good idea but might make you nervous. College is when you should take risks, don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and the status quo of your peers to be different and stand out.
- Find an Internship(s)
How will you know if you will like your possible career options if you don’t take a few out for a test drive first? Internships are a great time to learn about ways you can utilize your degree and find out what you do and don’t like about a potential job. It helps you to navigate your options and helps to determine if you want to turn around and do something else entirely. They are worth it and you have opportunities to get credit or be paid so do your research and apply early.
- Get Free Career Advice
Networking is an opportunity for you to ask questions and get advice from people who have been in your shoes and have each gone down their own path. Everyone has different advice and different recommendations but if you collect the facts and opinions it can help you make better decisions yourself.
- Widen Your Support Network
It never hurts to have a bigger cheering section, make sure to make a great first impression when you start to take on networking and follow up with the contacts you make. The more people you know the more opportunities will be available to you. If you surround yourself with people who want to help you succeed that’s half the battle, the other half is working hard and not giving up.
- Land You Your First Job
This is the ULTIMATE reason you network while still in school. All of you are looking to land a job out of school and networking, in my experience, is the number one tool other than your degree that will help you to do this. Utilize the contacts you make to ask about potential entry-level jobs and how they can help you to nail the interview. Believe it or not the world is a small place and someone you meet tomorrow could help you land your dream job in the future so always be prepared for that moment and you can’t go wrong.