Make Meaningful Connections

Networking is a critical career development (and life) skill worth developing. It is a continuous process through which you develop and cultivate relationships to exchange information. People network for a variety of reasons, including to learn about a particular career or industry, to obtain information to help prepare for a job or internship search, and to build professional connections.

Start Now

Networking opportunities present themselves regularly. Take advantage of the resources and advantages available to you as a student to build your network throughout your experience. Don’t wait until you’re actively looking for a job to start making connections. Instead, take action now to grow your network. You can make valuable career connections through a variety of sources, including:

 

students talking in a group

Your Personal and Professional Relationships

Start by reaching out to your personal relationships (relatives, friends, coaches, mentors, etc.) and professional relationships (colleagues, faculty, supervisors, etc.) to set up exploratory career conversations. Ask your connections to introduce you to members of their extended network. 

 

Eagle Exchange

Eagle Exchange is an online platform that fosters connections between BC students and alumni. Use your account to find mentors and set up exploratory career conversations. Search the community by major, industry, identity, job title, employer, and more. View our guide to get started.

 

Handshake

Through your Handshake account, you can connect with students and employers on the platform from a wide-variety of schools and organizations. You can search students based on organizations they have interned with. Reach out to set up an exploratory career conversation. View our guide to get started.

 

Summer Experience Database

The Career Center's Summer Experience Database is a resource to help you connect with other BC students to learn about internship experiences. Use the database to find students who completed internships that you may be interested in and reach out to them to discuss their summer experience. 

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a free professional social networking platform that enables you to connect with alumni and other professionals to establish new professional connections. Use the platform to research industries and set up exploratory career conversations. View LinkedIn's guide to get started.

 

Networking Events

There are countless opportunities to network at Boston College and beyond. The Career Center hosts networking events, career fairs, alumni panels, information sessions, and more to connect students with employers and professionals. Attend these events to learn about industries and make new connections. You can find all events listed in Handshake.

What are exploratory career conversations?

Exploratory career conversations are discussions with individual(s) who are currently working in a field of interest to gain a better understanding of an occupation or industry and to build your connections in that field.

These types of conversations are not job requests. You are not asking the person for a job, rather you are asking for tips and advice. You are gathering information to help you better understand the professional landscape. When reaching out to request an exploratory conversation, make sure you are clear about this.

Learn more

Sample outreach messages

I was a bit surprised as to how much I enjoyed doing informational interviews. At first I worried that it would be an immense amount of work or that it would be really awkward and overbearing for the people I was interested in interviewing, but I was very pleasantly surprised by how kind and insightful the people I interviewed were, how much I learned from them, and how much I overall simply enjoyed talking to professionals in the fields I am interested in.
Margaret Guggenberger, LSOEHD '22

Exploratory Career Conversations

Exploratory career conversations offer low pressure situations to gather information about various careers by speaking to professionals in those fields. You will learn what types of job opportunities/career paths exist in a given field or organization and begin to develop connections with individuals in your field of interest. 

Make the most of the experience by planning out your questions in advance. Remember, these conversations are not about getting a job. You should not ask directly for an interview or a job.

Questions about your interviewee's career field

  • What skills or personal characteristics do you feel contribute most to success in this industry?
  • What are the positive/negative aspects of working in this field?
  • What are typical entry level jobs? Is there a definite career path in this field? If so, can you describe it?
  • What are the most pertinent issues or trends in this field?
  • What types of internship opportunities exist in this field?
  • What are typical entry-level jobs in this field?
  • How did you get into this field?

Questions about your interviewee's organization

  • Why did you decide to work for this organization?
  • What do you like most about this organization?
  • What are the toughest challenges your organization faces?
  • How would you describe the culture and climate at your organization (casual, busy, etc.)?
  • How does your job fit into the organization or department?
  • What are the organization’s core values? 

Questions about your interviewee's job and career path

  • What are the duties/functions/responsibilities of your job?
  • How do you spend a typical day/week?
  • What do you find most/least satisfying about your job?
  • In what ways is your occupation changing?
  • What kinds of problems do you deal with? What kinds of decisions do you make?
  • How does your schedulevary? Are there busy and slow times or is the work activity constant?
  • What projects have you worked on that have been particularly interesting?
  • What particular skills or talents are most essential to be effective in your job? How did you learn these skills?
  • How much flexibility do you have in determining how you perform your job?
  • In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
  • What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?
  • What were the keys to your career advancement?

Questions about preparing for this career

  • How does your work relate to any experiences or studies you had in college?
  • What courses do you wish you had taken that would have prepared you?
  • If you were a college student again, what would you do differently to prepare you for this job?
  • What publications or professional journals do you recommend?
  • What skills or experiences are required to get an internship or entry level job in this field?

Wrap-up questions

  • Is there anyone else you can suggest I contact for additional information?

 

Online Networking

Online networking platforms benefit both students who are exploring their career interests and students who have a clear sense of their future paths. LinkedIn and Eagle Exchange serve as excellent resources to conduct research, discover mentorship, and set up exploratory career conversations.

 

Sample Outreach Messages

Eagle Exchange Message
 

Dear Mr./Ms. (Last Name),

I’m a senior psychology major at Boston College and I found your name through Eagle Exchange.

From your profile, I see that you work in advertising at WIN Communications. I’m currently enrolled in an advertising course, and am excited to learn more about the field. 

I’d love to hear about your experiences working at an advertising agency, as well as any advice you might have for me as I begin my  job search. Are you available for 20 minutes next week to meet in person, talk on the phone, or video chat? I am free Monday and Thursday after 1pm.

Thank you for considering my request.

Sincerely,
Judy James
Boston College, Class of 2020

 

Event Follow Up Email
 

Dear Mr./Ms. (Last Name),

It was a pleasure to meet you at the Boston College Career Fair on Thursday. I recall from our brief discussion that you were also a Communications major. Given that I’m very interested in the field of public relations, I wondered if you might be willing to meet with me in the coming weeks to share more information about your career path and advice about getting into the field. At your convenience, I would like to set up a phone call or take you for coffee.

Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,
Judy James
Boston College, Class of 2020

 

Informational interviews helped me consider other careers that people in my field of study went into and just overall were informative in that I am no longer scared to reach out to alumni on Eagle Exchange which could be helpful in the future in making connections that could lead to a job offer.
Brooke Barlow, MCAS '21
From the Career Center Blog
Networking Options Beyond Informational Interviews  Link to article
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