Networking is something we hear a lot about these days, both in professional and social arenas. It is touted as a highly desirable, if not absolutely essential, skill in today’s society. Entire websites dedicated to networking, like LinkedIn and Facebook, have blown up over the past decade, fueling and shaping the way we communicate. For me, even the word ‘networking’ invokes a bit of anxiety and stress. NetWORKING. I over emphasize the ‘work’ and lose sight of the ‘net’. To me, networking often sounds like a chore, an important but draining task that I would much rather put off until tomorrow.When I’m thinking this way, I stop enjoying genuine connection and start to evaluate my relationships according to what they can do for me. And lately, my evaluative criterion has been, “Can this person help me find a job?”
I’m graduating in May and while that feels far off in some regards (so many readings to do and papers left to write!!), it also feels alarmingly close at hand. I am excited to enter our profession and to take the next step, in some ways the first step, in my career. I do not, however, feel eager to “network”. What I need is a reframe. I need to focus more on the net and less on the work. I need to prioritize making connections for their inherent value and not for what they can do for me. Being a student at UNC has given me the opportunity to meet many wonderful people. I have formed close bonds with professors, classmates, supervisors, and clients. I have met people who have, without a doubt, changed my life for the better. As I prepare to transition from student to professional, there is certainly a sense of loss. I have loved this time in my life and am sad to be moving on. There is also a sense of excitement and anticipation. As I move forward in the job search process, I will try to focus on these life giving connections I have made. I will keep in mind the net of loving people I have connected with in my time here and that I hope to add to over the years to come.