6 ways to network before you graduate
Have you heard of the hidden job market? It’s a phrase used to describe all the jobs that are filled without being advertised.
Many jobs are filled through the hidden job market rather than through websites – and the way to access them is by networking.
Networking is all about forming relationships with people. Even if you’re studying away from home as an international student, there are lots of ways to make new connections.
We asked an international student, an international graduate and a career development consultant to suggest their top six ways to network while you study.
1. Join a club
New Zealand universities and other tertiary institutions have lots of clubs, associations and societies to choose from.
Clubs can help you develop your social and professional networks alongside other people with similar interests.
Marie, a Korean student studying at Massey University for a Masters of Professional Accounting and Finance, joined the executive team of her university’s accounting club. “From there, I went to many workshops and events, and there were many employers and managers from big companies,” she says.
“It was really helpful for me to learn how they communicate and how they meet other people.”
Career development consultant John Dorado says volunteering is a great way to meet new people, practise speaking English, learn about New Zealand culture and gain valuable skills and experience to put on your CV.
He says there are two important things to note; “if you were to grow your network through volunteering, it is important to build relationships and rapport first. Once that is established, then you can discuss work possibilities and opportunities. And if you were to ask for help from your existing network, you should give as much detail as possible about the kind of job you are looking for.”
“Communicate to your network what you’re trying to do, because they cannot help you if they don’t know what you want.”
3. Connect with your community
Diyva Kataria, from India, studied engineering at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). She was shopping at a mall in Auckland when she discovered that a local cafe was looking for baristas. She went in, talked to the manager and dropped off her CV. Later, the manager invited her in for an interview and gave Divya her first part-time job in New Zealand.
“It’s not conventional to find a job like that, but that’s why you keep your eyes open,” says Divya,
who has since graduated and now works as an engineer in Wellington. She suggests preparing a two-minute introduction that can be used whenever there are unexpected opportunities to meet potential employers in the community.
4. Meet alumni
Your institution’s alumni office can give you opportunities to meet former graduates who may be able to help you in your job search, says John.
He says alumni often have a strong sense of community and are keen to help current students. “Connecting with your alumni is a really good way to expand your networks and to reach out to people.”
5. Enter competitions
Taking part in competitions introduces you to influential people in your industry, as well as giving you a chance to create relationships with peers in the early stages of their career.
New Zealand tertiary institutions offer many types of competitions, often involving solving real-life problems while working in teams with other students. Competitions may be judged by influential people in your industry.
Marie entered a competition about equity research. It was sponsored by accounting organisations, which enabled her to meet industry leaders and ask questions.
“You don’t have to try to get a job from your networks, but you can get to know how the workplaces are and how they employ people,” she says.
6. Join professional organisations
Whatever career you’re aiming for, being part of a professional organisation is a way to meet people through events, conferences and workshops. Some organisations offer mentoring and internships, enabling you to gain knowledge and experience from senior people in your industry.
John says there are many benefits to joining a professional organisation.
“When you meet people, that’s a way to get to know opportunities in a particular area. It could be people in a certain company, people in an industry or people in a certain group. When you are in these circles, you get to hear about upcoming jobs,” he says.
About the contributors
John Dorado is an International Career Development Consultant for The University of Auckland. He first came to New Zealand as an international student from the Philippines.
Divya Kataria, from India, gained a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at Auckland University of Technology (AUT). She is working as a graduate civil engineer in Wellington.
Marie Hwang, from Korea, is studying for a Masters of Professional Accounting and Finance at Massey University.