In IU Southeast’s Career Development Center,
the word incites shouts of “by all means,
don’t call it that!”
The perception of
students, and many
is not a positive one.
As Jordan Williams,
features editor of The
Horizon, commented in
our meeting, the word
invokes visions of “shallow
handshakes and business suits.”
Before my time in Career Development, I
probably would have agreed. Yet the life of a
Career Services professional revolves around
learning through conversations. Let me
repeat: learning through conversations. Where
before I would have stood at the door of the
campus job fair with resignation, I now see it
as an opportunity.
“What kinds of candidates are you seeking?”
“What jobs do you need to fulfill the most and
“What are the biggest mistakes you see
candidates making in the job search?”
The campus job fair is a goldmine, a treasure
trove, of recruiters and HR representatives
brimming with information. Forget the cups,
the screen wipes and the stylus pens. The
information derived through a one-on-one
conversation is the key to fulfilling your job
search dreams. Through these conversations,
I have discovered hiring trends, job shadow
and internship opportunities, resume and
interviewing tips, and changes in the industry.
And, yes, I’ll concede that you could probably
discover all of this helpful information through
a cursory search on the internet. But, as we all
know, when you have a real conversation, you
become more than an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper
of skills and past experiences. You become a
bonafide young professional with interests,
ideas and potential.
Just ask Jordan.
Jordan had a chance meeting with the editor
of Louisville Magazine while interning at “The
Max” 102.3 FM. His networking moment
started in an elevator of all places, which
prompted the interview that scored him his
second internship. When he told me, I laughed
out loud and exclaimed, “You do realize you
networked?” to which he smirked, conceded
with a nod of his head and we moved on to
The stories that drift across my desk of peers
helping peers, faculty sharing contacts and
family members connecting students to local
opportunities have all proven successful
in allowing IU Southeast students to land
internships and jobs after graduation.
Yet my favorite anecdotes come from the
students who stay after an information
session to talk to presenters, who talk to a
job fair recruiter about creating an internship
opportunity, or who attend a networking
session and then follow up on a conversation.
The absolute cream of the crop is the
student who conducts multiple informational
interviews and is able to utilize industry
language and knowledge of the career field to
secure an internship or land a full-time job.
These students haven’t discovered
the secret to job search success.
They’ve created relationships, had
conversations and were able to
find opportunities that others
miss. Networking isn’t a dirty
word, nor is it empty jargon.
It isn’t a concept you should
avoid. Instead, embrace the
possibilities that emerge from
genuine connections formed
through real conversations with
stakeholders in your industry.
Avoid allowing fear to hold
you back from the places you
want to go in your career and
in your life.
It might be as simple as a
chat in an elevator.
C. Danielle Leffler is the
director of the Career
Development Center at
Shake the fear of networking
By C. Danielle Leffler