Let me be honest: I really don’t enjoy networking. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so introverted that I can’t stand being in a noisy room with several different conversations going on at the same time. Or maybe it’s that I feel awkward in weak social bonds, ‘getting to know someone’ for a mostly self-interested motivation. But I network anyway. It’s kind of one of those rules of the road that I haven’t yet been able to figure out how to get past. And I probably won’t.
Last week I attended the Macro Networking Night provided by the UNC-SSW. While most in attendance were practicing in child welfare advocacy organizations or agencies—not really my interest—I did meet a couple of professionals who were more than encouraging. In this way, networking was sort of a sharing of solidarity. These folks have been in my shoes as students, trying to figure out how to make a living out of their interests, and trying to connect with someone who might be able to help make that happen. They said that finding a job may take time and that you have to really work hard to make yourself known and available to people who are looking for your skills.
The career I envision is hard to get into right out of school and typically isn’t something you apply for out-of-the blue. These positions aren’t posted on job boards. Especially in a sluggish economy. Many of your dream positions probably aren’t either. But they all encouraged perseverance and diligence. That was the networking that I needed as a student, to know that this isn’t a venture that you have to go upon on your own.