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How Building Your Network at a Younger Age Can Help Prepare You for the Future

January 1, 1970
Are you a current college student or upcoming graduate looking to branch out into the working world as soon as possible and do not know where to start? Well, you have come to the right place.  

As you grow older and move from a high school student to a college student to a young professional, a lot will change. With this, your anxiety may increase as you see how others are growing in their education and careers, and you may feel behind if you are not in the same place. Maybe you’ve never had a job, do not have a professional network, or have a less extensive social network than your friends. Whatever is causing your anxiety, there are ways to overcome it. One way that worked for me was starting as soon as possible with entering the working world. 

You can do this by intentionally developing your skills, finding a job, and growing your professional network, no matter how small the steps you take are to do so. I am currently a college student, so I understand that it can be nerve-wracking and is a learning process. I’m still learning new things daily. Still, I have put myself out there and developed many skills throughout the last two years, which have helped me get my current position as a manager and secure an upcoming summer internship – all as a freshman in college.  

My career development started three years ago when my mom introduced me to putting yourself out there to grow your professional network. In February 2019, she took me to my first Let’s Detroit event hosted by Ford Motor Company at Michigan Central’s Information Center. Some of the Ford employees explained how they used Let’s Detroit to connect their employees with the community. At the event, I learned how networking is a crucial component when finding jobs in a competitive world.  

As time passed, I went to more Let’s Detroit events, which showed me how to build my following on LinkedIn, build my resume, put myself out there at networking events, and so much more. Let’s Detroit allows students to work in their communities and find other students just like them, making it an invaluable resource for high school students, college students, and young professionals. 

The most important thing for students to do is to build a network. In this age, social networks are vital. If just starting, LinkedIn is the perfect place. It allows anyone to connect with others they meet at networking functions. People can also connect with others based on similar interests and find jobs or internships. Being open to connecting with others is important because you never know who may help you get your dream job.  

Also, connecting with employees at companies you’re interested in allows you to see their career progress and make notes, as well as learn about upcoming company events you can attend. For example, Ford shares a lot of events like the one I mentioned above. With COVID-19, it’s also hosting many events online. Ford and other major companies have these events to source talent as they look toward the future. 

Another great reason to network on social media is the possibility to connect with someone whose career path you’d like to follow. For instance, many people do informational interviews with employees or other people who inspire them. Let’s say someone you connected with on LinkedIn works at Google, and that is one of your dream companies; you can hold an informational interview to see how that person may enjoy working there and what they did to get into their role. Students can also develop mentors by communicating with these employees. 

Overall, starting to enter the working world at a younger age allows students to build their network and gain the confidence necessary to find jobs and internships. Get started by connecting with Let’s Detroit ambassadors online or at events. Next, create a LinkedIn account, where you can showcase all your accomplishments and communicate with recruiters for your dream job.  

Click here for additional tips about developing a network as a young professional. 

Written by Jocelyn Szymanski, Spring 2022 Campus Ambassador