How to Maximize Your Return on University Investment: Part II – Reach Out to People Outside SFU

How to Maximize Your Return on University Investment: Part II – Reach Out to People Outside SFU

By: Jenny Vo | Business Co-op Student
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Networking Events and Informational Interviews

You probably have heard about how high the youth unemployment rate is and how difficult it is to find jobs. You may have no response despite hundreds of applications being sent. You may also have heard that there is something called “the hidden job market”. From events I attended and people I met, the hidden job market is real and most of industry professionals I talked to got their jobs thanks to referrals within their network.

I have asked people I met what their advice for students to get hired is, they all answered the same thing: put yourself out there, go to networking events, reach out to people for informational interviews or coffee chats, and have a professional online presence. Not a lot of people like networking events nor informational interviews. Neither do I. I used to have a pseudo sickness before a networking event and I ended up missing the event. I imagined myself being isolated in a crowd with strangers and awkward conversations. I was so scared of what other people would think of me and that I would make a fool of myself. However, I have overcome my fear now that I know I have to go out of my comfort zone to talk to people. If you put yourself out there, someone will talk to you. An Area Manager of a well-known bank I met at an event told me that she used to give a pep talk to herself in her car that someone somewhere in the room is more nervous than she is. If you already decided to attend an event, be confident to open up and talk to people you meet.

After attending an event, remember to follow up with the people you met. Focus on quality, not quantity. Building one meaningful relationship is more valuable than just collecting hundreds of business cards and let them sit at the corner of your desk. You can choose the person whom you are interested in talking more, pick up the phone or send them an email to invite them for a coffee chat.

Apart from networking events, the other venue you can connect with people is LinkedIn. Find someone whom you are interested to meet and learn from then send an invitation for informational interviews. If you have never heard of this before or you are not sure how to conduct this type of interview, contact Career & Volunteer Services or your department career offices. You have nothing to lose but so much to gain! What is a better way to learn about an industry or company than talking to an industry professional? You may find the first informational interview hard to do. However, once you nail the first one, you will be more comfortable to do the next! If you still find it hard to connect with people, try Ten Thousand Coffees, the platform that helps you invite and engage with industry professionals.

Reading the news and knowing what is happening around you will definitely make you more confident during networking events, informational interviews, and job interviews. You will also be able to initiate conversations easily. Who doesn’t want to sound smart?

Professional Associations and Mentorship Program

Join a professional network/ mentorship program before you graduate. Associations in specific career areas can offer you lots of benefits such as exclusive job board for members, resources, events, mentorship, etc. Keep an open mind and catch any opportunities available. There are also great mentorship program out there such as the Access Program of Burnaby Board of Trade or Leaders of Tomorrow of Vancouver Board of Trade.

You have to put yourself out there and make your name known in order to unveil the hidden job market and find your dream job.

After all of the experience from work, volunteer and connecting with people, you will be able to explore yourself and endless possibilities. You may change your thinking about your possible career path. Don’t be afraid of changes and don’t be pressured by your family expectations. Do as much as you can, start with my tips above to enrich your experience at university. Prove to your parents that you are good at what you choose and you actually put effort into developing your professional career. Life is full of contingencies and changes which are not under your control. Be the best you can be. “When you take a course, volunteer, do co-op, take a summer job, you change the world and the world changes you”. (Tony Botelho, Director of Career and Volunteer Services, Wondering Where Your Degree Might Lead You?). Be open to new experience and learning, life is full of possibilities for you to figure out what you like most, what you are good at or what is most important to you. Every time you do something, reflect on how it may affect you, what you liked and did not like. Get out of your comfort zone as going to university gives you the foundation, knowledge network, and mentorship as building blocks for your future career.

Beyond the Article

Posted on February 03, 2016