Building Professional Relationships

Connecting on Campus: Undergraduate Associations

Just as all the activities you did in high school were important to the admissions department at the college you currently attend, the activities and clubs you join on campus and place on your resume will be valuable for your future search for your first position in the business world. There are literally hundreds of student organizations that are always looking for new members. Look for potential groups to join as soon as you arrive on campus your freshman year. Make an effort by attending the open house most colleges hold for organizations at the beginning of the year. These large events are filled with clubs trying to make a mark on freshmen and other interested students. In general, there are three different types of undergraduate associations that you can look to join.

The first and most obvious group that many freshmen are attracted to are the various social fraternities and sororities. While these undergraduate associations can foster lasting friendships and contacts, it also requires more than a simple membership. Some Greek organizations require students to live at their house for several semesters, which can be a serious deterrent to your studies and a more stereotypically crazy college experience in general. Don’t forget about the hefty dues you must pay every semester; that bill is usually four figures. Regardless, if you are dead set on joining the Greek style of life, just be careful that you pick the club you feel most at home with, and remember that you are in school to learn.

Perhaps the most valuable undergraduate associations in terms of future connections you could join as an undergraduate are the professional and academic ones. Universities usually have professional organizations for most degrees that they offer. Join clubs such as a Historical Society or Engineers Club to make even more contacts within your specific school of study and degree program. Many of these have Greek titles; don’t get them social fraternities found in the preceding paragraph. If you are an exceptional student, there is also the possibility of joining the elite and highly competitive academic clubs such as the Dean’s List or Honors Scholars. To be accepted into undergraduate associations such as these, you must apply with and maintain a high GPA and do several hours of community service around campus for a given semester.

Finally, you have the option to join a special interest group. These groups bring together students who share a similar hobby or leisure activity and can range from Sky Divers to LGBT advocates to Star Wars fanatics. Again, engage in these clubs early on in the academic year. If you can’t find a special interest group that you like, but have another hobby that you think other students share, don’t be afraid to start your own club. Future employers and graduate school applications departments may be impressed with a line that states “Founder.” This shows management and others in the professional world that you are a leader and not afraid of blazing your own path, able to bring people together, and have exceptional organizational skills.

Don't Lose Touch: Maintaining Academic Relationships

By now you must know the importance of networking and building academic relationships in college with peers, academic contacts, and those in the business world. However, while networking and building academic relationships as an undergraduate will be beneficial for securing letters of recommendation for graduate school or employment, these connections are equally important to build while in graduate school. You must also learn how to maintain connections with those whom you met while in academia. Even if you easily got that first job after graduation, you never know when a precious contact from the past will mean the difference between a long streak of sudden and unexpected unemployment and a quick recovery. Beyond the professional benefits, you will greatly appreciate the social contact if you keep in touch with your old college friends.

College Friends

Staying in contact with friends from school is easier now than it has ever been before thanks to our favorite social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Nevertheless, to maintain a real friendship and continue to grow relationships, face time and/or talk time is essential. Make a habit of calling your friends on the phone or chat on Skype. Also, it is inevitable that some of your friends will drift away, and might even ignore your attempts to stay in touch. Don’t let this discourage you; at least you made the effort. Don’t wait for your friends to reach out to you as this may never happen. Instead, actively plan trips if you or one of your friends moved far away from your college town. If you had a favorite activity or annual tradition with your friends while in school, try to keep this going after you have all graduated. Remember, just a little effort can mean the difference in you keeping two or three of your closest friends and you having to create an entirely new group of friends in your new home.

Professionals

You might have made numerous other contacts in graduate school in a variety of different ways. The types of academic relationships you want to foster will include your favorite professors and other academic administration, former supervisors of internships or other positions, and anyone else you might know already in the professional world. One of these contacts might have even helped you to get the job you currently hold. An easy way to keep in contact with academic professionals is visiting your campus, which may or may not be simple depending on where you find yourself living soon after graduation. Pay attention to the free seminars and lectures given on campus. Showing up to functions such as these will undoubtedly result in you running into your old professors or peers who also had an interest in the field. Plan ahead of time to visit the old companies where you used to work or intern to stay fresh in management’s mind. The next time a job opportunity comes up, or if you find yourself searching for a new position, a past academic relationship you made while in graduate school is likely to put you on the short list for consideration for a job.

The most important part of the relationship-building process is consistency. Creating a presence requires constant upkeep. Random bursts of appearances will not create the connections necessary to build successful professional relationships. Make frequent appearances in your academic community and constantly contribute to your academic field. In other words, make it impossible for people to forget who you are.

Getting Great Letters of Recommendation

How to Get a Great Graduate School Letter of Recommendation

Students who need graduate school letters of recommendation often have questions about whom to ask, how to ask, and when is the right time to ask. Students must understand how to correctly ask for letters of recommendation because great letters of recommendation are vital to the admissions process for graduate school.

The first step to getting great graduate school letters of recommendation is choosing great writers. Writers must be able to accurately portray your potential to succeed at the graduate level. The best and most notable letters come from faculty members with whom you have developed more personal relationships because more personal letters tend to impress admissions committees.

After you have decided whom to ask, you should now approach them. Faculty members are very busy, so you should approach them at least 2 months before your letters are due. You should set up appointments to make your requests to potential writers. Be prepared to discuss your goals and intentions for graduate school to give writers a clear idea of what they will need to write.

It is important to provide your writers with the right tools to write your letters, so you should give your writers all the information and resources that you think they might need. Make sure that your writers have your contact information so that they can contact you if they have any questions. Provide your writers with a list of schools and their corresponding deadlines, which will give your writers hard deadlines by which they need to finish your letters. Present your writers with a list of points that you would like them to emphasize, which will give them a clear idea of what you want. Your resume, unofficial transcripts, and statement of purpose will give your writers additional information that they might not know about you, which will allow them to include specific details about your academics. Finally, you should give your writers stamped and addressed envelopes and thank-you notes because it is important to thank letter writers for their time.

Getting great graduate school letters of recommendation starts by having good professor-student relationships. You should develop your relationships with your professors as soon as possible and start thinking about which teachers you would ask to write graduate school letters of recommendation for you. Remember that good letters of recommendation can help you get in to graduate school.

Building Relationships and Making Connections

Why is networking in college so important?

Students who build relationships and actively participate in networking in college have more success when they apply to graduate schools for many reasons including: professors making a call to another professor or admission department on your behalf, to writing you a glowing letter of recommendation. Students can build valuable relationships with many different people, including advisors, professors, staff, graduate students, and fellow students. When networking in college, students should inform these people of their plans to obtain a graduate degree. Students should ask these people about their experiences in graduate school and about how to negotiate tedious academic processes. Students should keep these people involved in their research projects and academic interests.

Networking in college with professors is especially important. Professors are an especially valuable resource when it comes to negotiating the processes of graduate school. Professors can help students find good programs and improve their personal statements. Professors could eventually be a vital resource for letters of recommendation and opportunities for internships or research positions. Additionally, professors can help students find open assistantships that fit students’ needs.

Networking in college goes beyond talking to professors; students can make connections by creating a presence at public events. Students can create this presence by going to graduate school fairs, lectures, book signings, and other public events in their departments or fields of study. In addition, students should go to conferences related to their fields of interest and should start discussions about important topics in their academic communities.

Finally, it never hurts to stay in touch with fellow students; naturally they will be in the same field as you and may prove to be invaluable resources when you are looking for a job in the future!

How to Stand Out in a Class of 300 and Succeed in College

If you are interested in attending graduate school, then you probably already know that you are going to need letters of recommendation. In addition, if you are currently an undergraduate student, you have probably noticed a lot of distance between you and your professors—not to mention the distance between your professors and the other 300 students in your classes. To get strong letters of recommendation from your professors, you will have to overcome this distance by building strong relationships with them. The following are tips about how to build strong working relationships with your professors to hopefully succeed in college.

Be known, but don’t be annoying.

There are two types of students whom professors remember the best: students who are engaged in class and students who are a nuisance. To make sure that your professor knows and respects you, come to class prepared, be actively involved in class discussions, and make meaningful contributions. You should avoid excessively emailing your professor; if you must ask something that is not urgent, save it for class time. Also, as a general rule, never ask a question to which you can easily find the answer in the syllabus. Finally, you should avoid overly questioning your grades. From your professor’s point of view, students who are engaged in class and students who are a nuisance leave different types of impressions. If your goal is succeed in college, then there is no doubt which impression you would like to make.

Get involved in professors' research.

Most professors are also passionate researchers who love to talk about their research—sometimes to anyone who will listen. Express interest to your professors about their research, and express a desire to contribute to their work. Chances are they will jump at the chance for more “free labor.” Not only could this help you get better letters of recommendation, but it may also help boost your vita and help you succeed in college.

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