A student’s guide to networking

Written by Kate Hayhoe, 2017 PRINZ Student Ambassador, Massey University

Trying to find experience in your chosen field of study can be quite tricky. It’s hard to know who the right people to contact are, what role is the right fit for you, and how to go about asking the big guns of the industry for work experience.

I know as a student it can be very intimidating walking into a networking event when you sometimes feel like the least experienced or youngest person in the room. It can be daunting and sometimes off-putting when deciding whether or not to attend an event. As a current Communications student who is keen to get involved in all things related to Public Relations, I’ve noticed that sometimes other Communications students don’t have the same desire to network and get their ‘foot in the door’. Even though there are lots of students studying Communications, many don’t take the opportunities given to them to communicate.

In the last year of being involved as a student ambassador for PRINZ, I have asked myself many times if the reason for students not getting involved is due to complacency, or due to the fact that they’re intimidated of going by themselves to events that could potentially help them on their path to a successful career. I’ve decided that it’s both.

It’s tiring and stressful being a University student, and at times it can be very testing. The last thing many students want to be thinking about is the pressure of having to find a job while they are still studying, and having to plan going along to a looming networking event. These factors are where the complacency from some students lies.

Some easy ways that can help students break out of becoming complacent:

  • Go along to events that you think are well aligned to what you’re doing in University or an area that you would like to get into or find out more about.
  • Know that by putting yourself out there and going along to events, you can sometimes walk away with a connection or a business card that could help you get your ‘foot in the door’.
  • Find out if any of your class mates are keen to go along with you so that you’re both gaining some great experience.

On the other side of the spectrum, are the students who want to get involved, but feel apprehensive about going along to an event in fear that they won't have anyone to talk to, or they’ll feel like the underdog in a room full of professionals.

Some tips on how to break out of your shell and feel less intimidated about attending events:

  • Get in contact with the organiser of the event to let them know that it’s your first event, or you’re not used to attending professional events, but that you really want to come along. This will let them know that they should look out for you when you walk in, which can then lead to them helping you to talk to the right people.
  • Ask around your University friends to find out if they have a similar interest in the topic of the event and would be keen to carpool with you.
  • Add yourself to the ‘PRINZ Student Hub’ Facebook group so that you can see if there’s anyone you know or mutual friends who are engaging in the posts and attending events.

By attending networking events, students can meet with professionals in the industry that can give them advice, and help them towards a successful career. Some students who attended PRINZ events have walked away with business cards and connections, opportunities for work experience, or even long term internships. Professionals are more than happy to help students get ahead and put their studies into practice. PRINZ student events are not only welcoming and fun, but they are the perfect chance for students to gain experience and knowledge towards their Communications degrees.

It sometimes feels easier not to make the effort to get involved or to find out more about something, but when you break those barriers you can gain knowledge and experience that can put you ahead of your class mates and into a position that could potentially set up the start of your career.