Over the course of your career, whether it be academic or occupational, you may have come across the option or requirement of a reference. A good reference is someone who can talk about your skills, experience, work habits and character. However, not everyone has established reliable references to help excel them in what they are trying to achieve. As a college student, it is important for you to network and build those relationships with people around you. “Networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting. Networking is used by professionals to expand their circles of acquaintances, to find out about job opportunities in their fields and to increase their awareness of news and trends in their fields or in the greater world,” (Kagan, 2020).
To get a more in depth explanation of why networking is important, we interviewed Luis Carrillo, who is a Clinical Assistant Professor for the Student Success Center at Idaho State University.
Why is networking important for college students?
I often tell my students that networking is going to give you that opportunity to enhance your educational experience. Networking provides a hidden curriculum and what I mean by hidden curriculum is that there are lessons to be learned, knowledge to be gained and perspectives you can access if you are willing to put in the time and effort to make meaningful connections and build that network.
What advice would you give students who are trying to network?
Once students start developing their network, [they] have to be willing to nurture those relationships. It is important that when we establish our network, we are also always doing follow ups. So when that student is asking for a letter of reference, it is not out of the blue. They maintained that network, that relationship. A part of maintaining that relationship is letting them (their reference) know and keeping them up to date. What new skills are you acquiring? This is also going to help you strengthen your brand. Students that have kept me up-to-date and provided me with helpful information allowed me to do my research for writing a letter of reference for them.
Who should students ask as references?
It depends on what the reference is for. Sometimes you may need a reference for your scholarships, graduate school or for a job. If you are looking for references for more about [your] character, you might ask a coworker, a colleague or a peer that has seen your work or some organization or club that can attest to your character or how well you work in a team. Different folks will know you in different light. Ask yourself, what is the reference for? What goal do I have for this reference?
If you would like to contact Luis Carrillo for any questions, he is best available through email at email@example.com.
Networking can be vital for finding a job, filling out scholarship applications and much more. Students should start by developing relationships with their professors, advisors and employers to establish a network that will be useful in the future. Another option is by developing a LinkedIn profile, which is a website that helps people expand their network. Many use this platform to advance their career and it is free to create an account with the option of a paid subscription for marketing, recruitment, sales and more.
Kagan, J. (2020). Networking. Investopedia. Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/networking.asp