Networking with faculty increases graduate employment opportunities

Networking and making connections while in college can be beneficial both during the undergraduate career and later in life.

The entire process of building a career begins while in college, said Dr. Greg Pitts, chair of the communications department.

“You are looking for a career after you graduate, not a job,” Pitts said. “Faculty is a great network for that process.”

Employers are most likely to hire someone they know or receive a referral on, long before they place a job advertisement, said Jennifer Smith, career development coordinator for Career Planning and Development. The employer’s pyramid shows the most typical route that an employer will take, starting with someone they know and actually ending with an advertisement, she said.

“Advertisements take time and money,” Smith said. “It’s a lot simpler to hire someone I know with a good reputation.”

Being yourself and making good impressions is an essential part of building good relationships with your professors, Smith said.

“Don’t create fake, phony relationships,” Smith said. “Just put your best self forward.”

Pitts said fostering positive relationships is key.

“Find a mentor that you admire,” Pitts said. “They can offer you guidance and steer you in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to go by and visit or ask questions.”

Advice that Smith said she would offer students is setting up one-on-one appointments with professors to talk about performance, as well as not being afraid to communicate or participate in class.

“Foster as many positive relationships as you can,” Smith said. “Take advantage of internships and part-time jobs.”

Amber Griggs, a junior in the nursing program, has spent her undergraduate career building her network through organizations like Leadership UNA, which she is the co-chair of this year. She said getting involved on campus has helped her build relationships with people that will aid her in the search for things like the internship she will be completing this summer at Maury Regional Hospital in Columbia, Tennessee.

“If I hadn’t been close with my professors, recent employers, and advisors in organizations, I don’t know what I’d do,” Griggs said. “I probably wouldn’t have been offered the summer nursing internship job.”

Senior accounting major Zack Summy also said being involved has helped him expand his network.

“I’ve been in Accounting Scholars for two years,” Summy said. “I’ve worked really hard, and Dr. Carnes told me about the internship I’m doing right now with Patterson, Prince, and Associates. I feel like now I’ve kind of got my foot in the accounting door.”

Summy said he encourages all students to find their niches on campus.

“Just get your name out there and make a good name for yourself,” Summy said.