The classic college experience involves going to a school, studying for four years, and getting a job in your desired industry after those four years. This is the route most students will take – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
However, if you dread the idea of working a 9-5 job the rest of your life, there are some steps you can take throughout your college career to set yourself up for success.
One of the most important things you can do while in college is networking. Throughout this article we will be talking about some strategies you can take to network with individuals who can help you further your careers and escape the 9-5 grind.
Entrepreneurial Clubs and Incubators
A great place to start networking is your college or university’s entrepreneurial club. Almost every college will have some sort of club in which students can join and share ideas. The best part about these clubs – they will accept students from all college majors. Having students from different disciplines helps generate new ideas and exposes students to different ways of thinking.
Most entrepreneurial clubs will have guest speakers and events for their members to attend. Guest speakers are another great way to learn about different industries, learn how they started their entrepreneurial journey, and meet new people to add to your network.
Some schools even have incubator programs for students to get a jumpstart on their entrepreneurial journey. The incubator programs will grant students resources and investments for their great ideas. What better way to start your entrepreneurial journey than free money and resources from your college or university?
All students in college should create a LinkedIn. Even if you aren’t sure about your college major, you should have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is one of the best ways to network with individuals in fields you are interested in.
LinkedIn can be used to connect with individuals who are successful in their fields, follow friends on their career paths, and stay in-the-know for different industries. Use LinkedIn to your advantage – and remember, people love when they meet others who are attending or graduated from the same college or university.
LinkedIn Networking Example
Let’s say you want to start your own marketing firm – you have a ton of questions but do not know where to start.
When you go on LinkedIn, type “Marketing” into the search bar. After you type this in, click search. This is going to bring up a bunch of stuff we do not care about.
Locate the “All Filters” button near the top of the page and click it. This will give you access to advanced filters to find the people you really want to reach out too.
Some of the big filters you will want to throw on include the school they attended and the industry they are in.
Once you find the person or people you want to connect with, write them a quick note (3-5 sentences max) explaining how you are an aspiring entrepreneur from “insert school here” and would love to ask them a couple of questions about their company.
Probably not something you want to hear, being that you are an aspiring entrepreneur, but you have to start somewhere! An internship in college can be very eye-opening and help drive your entrepreneurial career.
Find an industry or company that interests you and do everything you can to secure that internship. You will have the opportunity to meet some incredible people throughout your internship experience. These people will take you under their wing and teach you a ton. You will probably learn more during a 3-month internship than you will in a whole semester of college.
Not only will you learn a ton during a college internship, you will also grow your network tenfold. If you are interning for a bigger company, they will most likely have networking events and seminars where you can branch out and meet new people within the company – a great way to grow your network and meet SMART people.
An internship can also show you what you like and dislike. Maybe you wanted to start your own clothing brand but interned with a clothing brand and were not into it – better to find out before you spend your own money into starting your own clothing brand.
A big reason every entrepreneur should have a college internship is the fact that most students will HATE the 9-5 grind. Having a trial-run of working 9-5 for a couple of months is usually enough to drive any entrepreneur crazy. This is a great motivator for beginning your entrepreneurial journey.
College is a great time to build the foundation that will hold your entrepreneurial dreams. Not only will you learn a ton of information in your courses, but you will also have a ton of opportunities to network and meet some really bright people.
Some people you may be able to add to your professional network include friends, colleagues, professors, and alumni. The biggest thing to remember is that networking takes effort – if you sit in your dorm all day, you will have a hard time building your network (unless you use our LinkedIn strategy).
With a little bit of effort, you can grow your network big time during your college years. Networking does not have to be boring. Make it fun. Invite some kids from your entrepreneurial club for dinner, have a competition between friends to see who can get a zoom call with a fortune 500 CEO, have fun with it!
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