Things I Wish I Knew as a Freshman – Part 2

Picking up where we left off, the following is the second part to the “5 Things I Wish I Knew as a Freshman” series.  Doing all the right things now, will get you to where you want to be quicker and easier. 

4.   Start networking NOW

As a fourth year student, I have finally mastered the art of networking and maintaining connections with contacts I make on-campus, off-campus, and anywhere else.  This is a skill I wish I had learned the benefits of earlier.  Taking business cards, job shadowing, sending thank you notes, and sending follow-up emails is what it’s all about.  I was always nervous about asking professionals for their business card, thinking they wouldn’t want to give a little freshman student their contact info – I was completely wrong.  Professionals bring business cards with them when they interact with others because they want to network with you just as much.  “May I keep in touch with you in case I ever need advice on [this topic, subject, etc]?” is such an easy question, and you’re guaranteed a friendly response.  Then, people always enjoy thank you notes; like Adam mentioned earlier in this blog series following up with the person is the most important part.  Email them and ask about their most recent projects, advice on a question you have, whatever – just keep in touch.  All these things, I wish I would have started doing my first year because it takes lots of practice to feel completely comfortable networking.  However, that’s why LinkedIn is so great.  Get an account and start connecting right away.  And like I said earlier, keep it professional.  The Career Center has hour-long workshops that talk about networking, giving you tips on how, and with who, to connect  in any situation.  For the workshop dates, look up the Upcoming Events section (http://career.uncc.edu/heading.cfm?heading_ID=80) on the Career Center website.

5.  Get experience

This year, I was advised that all marketing majors should have about four internships behind them upon graduation in order to gain a competitive advantage in today’s workforce.  The thing is, this doesn’t just apply to marketing majors, but every student should have some kind of experience behind them as they begin to apply for career-related jobs with their degree.  My first internship experience was during the summer between my sophomore and junior years; and it was an experience that I can talk about now as I interview for more internships and possible job opportunities.  Plus, it was PAID! Yes,  many internships ARE  paid. All in all, it pays to get that experience as early as possible.  For your jumpstart into the internship, part-time job, and full-time job arena – activate your free NinerJobNet (online database of employers looking to hire UNC Charlotte students) account through the Career Center’s website.

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