Written by SOJC Portfolio Review account team members Alex Ruby, Kelsey Akerson and Marisa Cesare. 

As college students, we face the constant realization of entering the ‘real world.’ Once we enter this daunting place, we are on our own, looking for work and success. Who do you call when you need a recommendation? Who can help you get your foot in the door?

Even though college mostly revolves around academics, the four years spent at a university are critical to aiding your professional career and development. Networking in college is easier than ever due to online databases and the introduction of social media.

These easy networking tips can help you get a jump on your professional development and success.

Get involved on campus: Most college campuses have a plethora of clubs and activities that students can get involved with. Some examples include Greek life, academic clubs, student government and club sports. Getting involved in different organizations allows you to make connections with students, faculty, and professionals.

Reach out to professors and faculty: Don’t just sit at the back of the class daydreaming; raise your hand and actively participate! Professors notice students who take initiative and want to help them succeed. Faculty members have numerous connections, so creating positive relationships with them can help you get a letter of recommendation or reference required on most job applications.

Ask for informational interviews: Many professionals are more than happy to hold informational interviews with students to share their experiences and give advice.

Apply for an internship: An internship allows you to gain experience and make connections in a professional setting. Additionally, giving your all to an unpaid internship shows initiative and drive which people will notice. Eugene has a variety of opportunities for both agency and in-house public relations internships; you just have to look for them. Do some research and strive to find an internship in the industry you’re interested in.

Use social media to your advantage: LinkedIn is a great resource to connect with professionals in your field as well as get in touch with recent graduates working in your desired field. In addition, most employers look at your presence across various social media platforms to see your online activity and personality outside of the workplace, so have a positive social media presence. This also applies to platforms such as Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Take advantage of networking events: The University of Oregon hosts a variety of different events that promote networking with current students, alumni and other professionals. Events such as job fairs or specific networking events hosted by the Career Center or Student Alumni Association are the best place to show off your skills. When you’re at these networking events, own the room! Be confident, poised and professional in all your interactions; a positive attitude, confident smile, and firm handshake will impress the people you meet.

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