Why Is Networking So Important?: It’s Never Too Early to Think About Post-College Plans

by The Cowl Editor on February 2, 2018


PC students attend the Communications and Media “trek” at LinkedIn.
PC students attend the Communications and Media “trek” at LinkedIn. Photo courtesy of Tess Povar.

by Katherine Torok ’20

Opinion Staff

As the second semester continues on and the number of days until graduation decrease, upperclassmen find themselves starting to think seriously about their professional lives after Providence College.

However, is it ever too early to start thinking about your professional life after college? The answer is no.

Is it ever too early to start networking and making your presence known in the professional world? Once again, the answer is no.

Over the winter break, a handful of students traveled to New York City with the Center for Career Education and Professional Development and embarked on three different career “treks”: finance, nonprofit, and communications and media.

Students were warmly welcomed to the offices of well-known companies, including Linkedin and Nasdaq, where they toured the offices and learned about particular careers in those companies. The day ended with a PC alumni and student networking night filled with an informative alumni panel, general networking, and an assortment of snacks and refreshments.

While many of the students who attended were part of the junior and senior classes, all years were represented, proving that it is never too early to start networking or thinking about life after PC.

While students are always told that connections with others in their field are encouraged, why is networking so important?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, networking can be defined as “the exchange of information or service among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” In other words, networking is all about creating and maintaining solid, meaningful relationships.

While some students may find this appealing, others can find it simply terrifying. Because of this, students oftentimes misunderstand what networking truly is.

Tess Povar, assistant director and career coach for the Providence College School of Business, sat down with me to debunk these outdated networking fallacies.

“I think that the common misconception [about networking] is that it’s intimidating and awkward, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s really about having a conversation and getting to know someone on a professional level. However, it takes effort and a resourceful student to plan and prep in advance, as it is a skill that doesn’t come easy to everyone.”

Povar went on to explain the Center for Career Education and Professional Development’s extensive list of student resources. Their resources include daily Slavin 108 and PCSB drop-in hours, weekly mock-interviews conducted by guest professionals in different industries, the upcoming Career Expo, and their “Weekend Update” emails sent out every Sunday.

From day one of freshman year, it is clear that PC wants its students to utilize all the resources they possibly can. It’s hard to go a day without seeing someone wearing the notorious “Don’t Wait…Slavin 108” shirt, but what happens if you do wait?

“I don’t think it’s ever too late,” said Povar, “because there are so many opportunities on a daily basis, but it becomes more difficult as time goes on. It’s all about relationships, and relationships take time and effort. Therefore, the earlier you start, the more connections you will have so that they can advocate and mentor you throughout your college career.”

The professional world today is truly all about who you know and the connections you have made. That being said, you never know exactly where your connections will take you. They may lead you to other people, or they may lead to your dream job.

Now, this is not a call for all students of all grades to drop everything and start sprinting to the Career Center. Just know that it is truly never too early to start networking and thinking about your professional life after college.

To reiterate what Povar said, networking is all about relationships, and relationships take time and effort. The earlier you make a connection and form a professional relationship, the more valuable and meaningful the relationship will become.

Although networking may seem intimidating and awkward at first, it truly is one of the most important parts of your professional career.

So, don’t wait… Slavin 108.