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In IU Southeast’s Career Development Center,

the word incites shouts of “by all means,

don’t call it that!”

The perception of

networking by

students, and many

adult professionals,

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

other topics.

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

IU Southeast.

Shake the fear of networking

By C. Danielle Leffler