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Here Comes the Fall! Networking Opportunities…on Campus By Guest Blogger, Lisa Dalla Vecchia

September has arrived, and gone are the long days of summer. The crisp cool days of fall can only mean one thing: Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back!

All kidding aside, September marks the start of a new school year. Whether it’s a first year student getting acquainted with campus life and academia, or a student in their final year prepared to make the most of their last year on campus, students are focused, among many things, on developing a career plan.  For undergraduate students, such planning will help them launch their career post-graduation; for graduate students, it will help them either assume additional responsibilities at their current place of employment or take their career in a new direction entirely.

Developing a career plan involves research on careers, companies and industries.  One of the most valuable ways students can obtain such information is by speaking with working professionals who are in the field and are willing to help students:

-Gain an appreciation for the variety of career opportunities available post-grad

-Determine the courses, skills and experience necessary for a given career

-Acquire the ‘inside scoop’ on workplace culture and the day-to-day responsibilities of a given position

-Learn about industry trends, and what’s hot in the current economy

-Understand that there is more than one pathway to career success

Given that September also marks the start to another busy networking season, what does this mean for you?  As an industry professional, you can meet your networking goals, hone your networking skills, and give back to the community, by participating in on-campus events.

Students look forward to connecting with industry professionals and most schools offer many ways to get involved on campus.  Here are a few ways that the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University makes it easy for industry professionals to connect with students:

– Information sessions. If your employer is already hosting a session, volunteer to attend.

Informational (not job) interviews. Meet with a student(s) and in 20 to 30 minutes, answer their questions about what it takes to succeed in a given career, company, or industry.

Mentorship. Develop a more formal relationship with a student over the course of several months.

Panels. Participate as a panellist in one of several career panels held throughout the year (marketing, consulting, finance, cleantech etc.).

Resume reviews or mock interview programs. Meet with students one-on-one, offer advice on their resume and interview skills, and share information about yourself.

Mock networking events. Help students develop confidence in their networking abilities.

Student-led business clubs. Student clubs/associations are always looking to connect with industry professionals for speaking and networking events.

Alumni events. Join your alma mater’s mail list and/or LinkedIn Group.  Alumni associations are always keen to hear from alumni interested in giving back.

Remember, it’s been said that the best networkers spend 80% of their time offering to help others and 20% asking for something in return. Start this networking season off right: focus on the 80% and consider connecting with students.

If you have any questions about on-campus initiatives, please feel free to contact me through Twitter at @lmdallavecchia, email lisa_dalla_vecchia@sfu.ca, or call 778.782.9696.  I look forward to speaking with you.

Happy Networking!

Lisa Dalla Vecchia

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