Networking to success

Asking the right questions goes a long way


In a recovering economy, finding a job out of college can be a daunting task. Tuesday, however, UB students had the opportunity to learn effective strategies for standing out on an interview and were taught the importance of making and maintaining contacts.

Cathleen Morreale, a coordinator for the public service internship and experimental learning program and Edward Brodka, a career counselor for the career services center at UB, gave a presentation to students on Tuesday describing strategic ways to search for internships.

The seminar, titled "It's All About Internships, Secrets to Gaining Real World Experience," educated students on the art of networking and emphasized that making important contacts even before applying to internships is an important step to success.

Brodka explained that only 15 percent of people land internships through vacancy listings. In comparison, 85 percent get internships through networking, prospecting and searching in the job market.

Prospecting involves sending out resumes and cover letters to targeted employers and following up via phone call or in person.

The job market consists of smaller companies: businesses students have never heard of before, and not-for-profit organizations.

"I never thought to look in the hidden market," said Sarah Khauka, a senior biomedical sciences major.

The idea is to approach companies and potential employers before they need to advertise internship vacancy.

Brodka describes that using informational interviews, to network or to help students find majors and fields of interest is vital in the career process. Brodka also recommends that students should contact the head of a department, requesting a conversation via phone or email.

"Always ask how they got started," Brodka said.

Asking for advice was Brodka's second tip during an informational interview. Talking about job-related skills or current trends are also topics that can help students gain insight.

Offering to help with any special projects or events coming up is a way for students to show interest and get involved with the company.

Brodka explains that sometimes companies have a difficult time relating to young people. Students were told that it is important to find ways to help their contacts instead of just asking questions.

When speaking to a potential employer or contact, Brodka advised students to be specific about their goals, request business cards and always send a thank you letter within 48 hours.

Brodka said that taking notes is crucial in order for students to develop a detailed database about various companies and contacts they made. Forming a list of contacts now will benefit students later when they are doing further research on specific organizations and interviewing for different positions.

The UB Meet-a-Mentor program is another networking resource offered through the career services department. Through this program students can develop one-on-one relationships with faculty and potential employers.

Participating in this program increases students' chances of being referred to employers. Both Morreale and Brodka stressed that referred resumes have more weight than those that are randomly distributed.

"I'd rather have candidates referred to me by someone I know and trust," Brodka said.

Both Brodka and Morreale talked about putting students in contact with potential employers through various class projects.

Morreale described several examples of student projects that could qualify as research a company or not-for-profit organization might be interested in utilizing. Morreale also suggested contacting a specific department of a company with a project idea.

"It's all in the delivery and the proposal," Morreale said. "You have to make it worth their time."

Aside from describing the different ways to network, Brodka showed students how to use their online resources to obtain internships.

When Brodka asked how many students had a BullsEye account, only a handful said they had personal online web pages. BullsEye is a website that can be accessed through UB career services that gives students the opportunity to research employers, search job postings and on-campus interviews, and also seek out mentors.

Under the "Resources" section of the BullsEye website, five million companies are listed, allowing students to search for them by location and the service they provide. BullsEye also provides a list of internship opportunities abroad under its "Going Global" tab.

Gamze Gul, a senior economics major said she found the networking and resource information helpful.

"I didn't know about the UB mentor program or Going Global until after the presentation," Gul said.

Another resource students can use to find research opportunities is the website curca.buffalo.edu. This website lists UB faculty members that are looking for help with research projects.

The seminars are held twice a semester, so, if you missed Tuesday's presentation, you can gain all of the information again on Wednesday Oct. 20 from 4 p.m. - 5 p.m in 145A Student Union.

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