The Time to Start Networking Is Now

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ve likely seen some tweets about about a decline in internship opportunities. For those of you still in search of a summer internship, you’re possibly noticing a shortage of opportunities. I can’t say for certain whether or not fewer UW-Whitewater students are securing internships, but I do know that my appointment traffic is up and employer recruitment seems to be down.

There’s a lot of doom and gloom out there right now, and I want to try to move away from the negative. I believe that if you want an opportunity badly enough, you can find a way to make something happen. The downturn in the economy has led some people to start down new career paths. So what could this mean to you as an aspiring intern? You have an opportunity to take full control of your future and make opportunities happen for yourself.

One strategy for securing an internship, which I’ve mentioned time and time again, is networking. With the job outlook being what it is, networking is something you can’t afford not to do. However, the skills necessary for successful networking don’t always come naturally to some people. Speaking for myself, approaching people I don’t know and mingling with them – necessary evils in the realm of networking – is hard to do. I’m guessing I’m not alone in that fear. In fact, at an etiquette training workshop I attended last spring, it was noted that “mixing and mingling” had overtaken public speaking as people’s greatest social fear.

If you’re like me and many others out there who feel uncomfortable with networking or are unsure about how to network, there is some good stuff happening on campus and in the area to help. First, attend the program on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 called “Build Your Network, Build Your Career” (6:00pm, Hamilton Center-UC 164, FREE!). Julie Bauke, Career Strategist and President of Congruity Career Consulting, will be visiting campus to lead a session about how to build and maintain a professional network. Strategies and tactics to be convered include networking for YOU as a personal/professional development strategy, networking for your career as a way to bring value to your workplace, and aligning your networking activity with your career and personal goals.

Another great program is Spreenkler’s New Age Networking 101. Every Friday from 1:00-4:00pm at Bucketworks in Milwaukee, Spreenkler hosts a casual drop-in workshop focused on the social media tools you should be using for professional networking (Facebook, Twitter,, etc.). The workshops are FREE and everyone is invited. Drop by, bring your laptop, and the Spreenkler team will help you out.

Finally, keep in mind that even shy individuals can network. Joe Bucher, Career Counselor at a university in California and fellow blogger, gives some great networking tips for the shy student. Networking is super important, and there is a lot of good information out there to help you get started!


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