Benefits of Networking During Studies
Riikka Simonen & Riitta Hyttinen
Networking is considered the best path in finding a job. In 2016, a survey published in the United States followed over 3,000 people and their job search/recruitment. Roughly 85% said they found their job through networking (Source). Another study found that around 80% of new jobs are not posted publicly (Source). This means that most new jobs are filled through the companies’ own networks.
When considering the above statistics, it is essential for students to gain a professional network as soon as possible. Building one’s own professional network can be extremely hard, and for foreigners living/studying in a different country, it can be even harder to build these relationships. When one does not have a professional network, where does one find it? And how does one begin to build a network? To answer these questions, Karelia University of Applied Sciences foreign-based alumni of International Business students were asked how they experienced networking during their IB studies, how beneficial it was, and what they suggest current and future IB students can gain from networking. In total, six different alumni shared their experiences; below you can find their suggestions. The alumni had originally come to study at Karelia UAS from Russia, Latvia and Vietnam.
How important did you find networking during your studies at Karelia UAS?
“Networking is a great way to meet new people and learn from them” – Russian alumnus
The consensus was networking during their studies as highly important, a few of them finding work through these networks. Some found the networks from the University helpful, while others found their own personal networks to be more beneficial. Many found the skills needed in networking have helped them in their current job, even if the networking itself did not present job opportunities during the studies.
How would you encourage students to build networks during studies?
“…a student must visit any networking events, especially if he or she wants to meet new people, find job or stay in Finland.” – Russian alumnus
The networking events hosted at Joensuu Science Park were found to be good events to meet new and different people. Participating in different projects, e.g. Joensuu Entrepreneurship Society, tutor teams, and other University Projects allowed students to meet different degree students and company representatives. Others found guest lecturers and company visits helpful in building their professional network. This allowed students to get business contacts and a different networking base. Meeting and talking to other people, be it students, teachers or company representatives, was recommended by all.
How did Karelia UAS encourage or facilitate different networking possibilities during your studies?
“…I met my first job provider via University organised event.” – Latvian alumnus
The importance of networking was made very clear to the students from the very beginning of their studies. Creating one’s own student parties, get togethers with exchange students, alumni parties, and guest lectures made it easy to network. Some lecturers also organized field/company visits, which made it easier to contact those companies afterwards. Networking during studies was found to be much easier, as different networking possibilities arose more frequently and more diversely. All the alumni highlighted the importance of the lecturer’s contacts. The alumni also suggested that teachers could be consulted as much as possible.
What activities would you have wished to have more to strengthen your networking during studies?
“…job fairs or to invite company representatives to university…” – Vietnamese alumnus
Overall, the importance of company visits and guest lecturers was universally encouraged, and it was hoped the University would facilitate them more. Company commissions during studies could be an added benefit, as they allow the formation of real company networks, and provide real company problems to be solved. This would allow students to understand what is needed in working life.
Having networks can be essential in finding work after graduation, but as some alumni stated it is not always the case. Finding work can happen by traditional gateways. Being able to utilize and benefit from networking can have a greater impact on one’s working life. Students should make use of the possibilities given to them during studies, but also be independently active. Studying and living in Finland can be quite isolating (in general). Having a good Finnish network can also open doors to new and exciting possibilities.
Riikka Simonen, Project Manager, TalentHub Joensuu
Riitta Hyttinen, Lecturer (International Business), Project Specialist
Karelia University of Applied Sciences