How Networking Got Me A Job

How Networking Got me My Last Job

I think I speak for many people when I say getting a job as a University student is getting harder! Everyone is in the pursuit to developing their careers, through studying, working and other ways.  As a student, I found myself at the crossroads of uncertainty again at the end of 2023, but this time by choice, I had not fully exerted myself into the co-op job search that term. It was only towards the end that thing fell through and I realised that the power of networking and maintaining those networks helps you in unimaginable ways! You may not see it now, but it compounds.

 Navigating the Co-op Cycle

 

Entering the co-op job market can feel like entering a jungle, dense with competition and different pathways. This particular term I was focused on my academics and honestly the Young Eye Initiative in its entirety. But, I knew that, I needed a job to complete the co-op requirements for my degree at UW and for the finances to help with the final year of my bachelors.

My Networking Efforts

 

Networking isn’t just about handing out business cards or connecting on LinkedIn; it’s about building authentic relationships. My journey began with attending industry-related events, career fairs, and networking sessions hosted by my university. I wrote about this in my blog: How to Build and Maintain your Network.

One key lesson I learned early on was the importance of being genuine. Instead of focusing solely on what I could gain, I aimed to contribute to conversations, share my experiences, and express genuine interest in others’ stories. Networking is a two-way street, and authentic connections are more likely to yield worthwhile opportunities.

Connecting the Dots

 

Building a network is like setting up a chain of dominoes; one connection leads to another, creating a ripple effect of potential opportunities. After completing my second co-op role at Canada’s Children Hospital Foundation (CCHF), I made sure to maintain positive relationships with everyone I worked with. These connections, in turn, introduced me to others, expanding my network organically.

Each connection became a valuable resource, offering insights into industry trends, sharing personal experiences, and providing advice on how to navigate the sectors I am actively involved in. It became evident that networking wasn’t just about securing a job; it was about gaining a wealth of knowledge and mentorship from those who had walked the path before me.

Following Up

 

Networking doesn’t end after the initial interaction. The power lies in the follow-up. Sending personalized thank-you emails, connecting on LinkedIn, and engaging with posts or articles shared by your network keeps the flame of connection alive. It’s about fostering relationships over time, demonstrating your continued interest, and positioning yourself at the forefront of their professional network.

One invaluable piece of advice I received was to stay consistent in my follow-ups without being overly persistent. A well-timed message expressing interest or gratitude can make a lasting impression and keep you on their radar when opportunities arise.

From Connection to Opportunity

 

Fast forward to December 2023, I realised I needed a co-op job. There was no time. What made the difference in securing this role wasn’t just my qualifications but the relationships I had built along the way. One of my connections, impressed by our previous interactions, recommended me for the position that CCHF would be advertising later that month.

6 reasons why You Need A Mentor.

Networking had not only opened doors but had also created individuals who vouched for my skills and suitability for the role. It was a testament to the idea that in the professional world, it’s not just about what you know but who you know – and how well you’ve cultivated those relationships.

Mentorship and Continuous Learning

 

Securing the co-op role was a win in my eyes, but the impact of networking extended far beyond a job offer. The professionals I had connected with became mentors, guiding me through the nuances of the industry, offering career advice, and providing insights that textbooks couldn’t capture.

Networking had transformed into a continuous learning experience. Engaging with experienced professionals exposed me to real-world scenarios, industry trends, and the knowledge necessary to excel in my chosen field. The relationships I built became a wellspring of wisdom, and mentorship became an ongoing dialogue, enriching my understanding of the professional space.

Networking as a Lifelong Skill

 

As I reflect on my journey from a university student navigating the co-op jungle to a professional gaining insights from seasoned mentors, the role of networking stands out as a game-changer. It’s not just a tool for securing job opportunities; it’s a lifelong skill that shapes your career trajectory.

For us in university eyeing the vast world of networking, my advice is simple: start early, be genuine, and view networking as a journey rather than a destination. Attend events, engage in conversations, follow up, and let the domino effect unfold. Networking isn’t just about getting a job; it’s about building relationships that will accompany you throughout your journey, providing guidance, support, and a network of people cheering you on.

My first co-op in Canada, you can see the lessons I learned and how everything comes back around.

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