The Importance of Networking

As everyone at this college (hopefully) heads towards graduation — whether in 2021, 2022, or beyond — Thursday’s Career Fair has me thinking about what we’re paying all this money for.  Sure, Luther advertises a beautiful campus, an involved and passionate student body, and the best four (maybe five) years of your life, but at the end of the day we’re all here to do one thing: get a job.  And as I get closer and closer to graduation, it’s becoming clearer that getting a job is not as straightforward as it seems.  


Navigating the job market can be incredibly overwhelming.  The pandemic has upended the market, leaving some fields booming while others bust.  One study claimed that up to 80% of jobs are never advertised online.  And with the increased automation of recruiting, the hiring process is more opaque than ever.  However, there is one thing we can do to cut through the fog of hiring: network.  


So how does one network?  It’s actually a lot easier than you might think.  Networking is a fancy business word to describe getting to know people in a professional context.  By professional context, I mean people you may have worked with at an internship, summer job, a professor, family friend, or even a fellow Luther student; not someone you met at Corner who swore that they were getting a startup together.  After you know those people in a professional context, you can reach out to them and ask for advice about finding a job, ask them to give you a job, or even ask them if they want a job.  


Networking is a staple of the job market, and is useful both for recent graduates and people who are deep into their careers.  Anecdotally, networking helped my dad get a better and higher-paying job after 30 years of working with the same company, and it also helped several recent grads I know get into really impressive jobs, one of them not even in their field of study.  And the statistics back that up: up to 80% of new jobs aren’t posted online, and many that are receive hundreds of applications.  Knowing the right people is a way — maybe the best way — to stand out.  


Networking can happen in many different ways; it’s happening every day at Luther.  Over the summer, I received a job offer working full-time on a political campaign in Minneapolis, which I unfortunately had to turn down.  I received that job offer from a boss at a previous internship — yay networking — but I turned it down because I wanted to finish my degree.  Said boss asked me if I knew of anyone who was interested in the position, and the first person I asked was a recent Luther grad who I knew well during my time here.  I thought of this person because I knew them as smart, driven, and interested in my field of study.