“It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.”

by Tony Roetzel

I am sure many of you have heard this phrase time and time again. I know I have. What does it really mean professionally though? You don’t need to know a thing about a job you are applying for? That your chances are better when you’re lifelong friends with the person doing the hiring? Yes, well sometimes. But what I’m talking about is reaching out to the right people in the right way.

People in the professional world want to see students be successful. They want to be a part of bringing in the next generation into the workforce. So as a young professional how do I leverage that? How do I connect with people who can help me get a job?

 

Get involved.

I wrote about getting involved in my last blog. In order to meet people you need to be around people. A good place to start is a campus club that focuses on what you would like to do professionally. Outside of school there are many organizations and events centered around young professional and ways to connect with local businesses. Information on these events can be found typically on your area’s chamber of commerce site. Some examples of Fargo’s events are:

 

Ask the right questions.

A year ago I took one of the most life changing courses of my college career. It was called Dragon Consulting and it was a program that brought together students from across all colleges of the university and had them work together to help a local business solve a problem. This class was lead by a prominent business professional in the area, she is what I like to call a “shark”. For me that means that she is the type of person to hunt and work for what she wants and won’t settle for anything but success in whatever she does. One of the many things that she taught our class was the importance of asking questions, especially the right questions. She advised us to always be ready with three pre-planned questions before sitting down and talking to any professional. Each question should be:

  • Open-ended:“What steps do you take in order to stay organized in your daily life?”
  • Relevant to what you are doing: “What steps would you recommend students take in order to prepare for their careers?”
  • Finally, not all questions have to be about work; ask them about how they manage being successful in their career while also having a rewarding social and family life. Ask them how they find their balance.  

 

Go the extra mile.

There are so many idioms in this blog already but I am going to throw one more at you, “actions speak louder than words”. Whether it’s in class for a professor or at a club events go that extra mile to help out and demonstrate your talents. You never know who will be watching and will pick up on the hard work that you put forth. Employers and professionals are looking for students with a strong work ethic and are able to show that they can do what they say.

Last spring I joined MSUM’s ad agency called Fly Paper, which works with local companies and nonprofits to develop and implement marketing campaigns. For the semester I was assigned the Fargo Marathon. Long story short, I ended up having to develop and produce with my small team the runners guide for the 2017 Fargo Marathon. It was a ton of work and a lot of long nights went into editing and designing. All that work paid off though, people recognized what had been accomplished and it opened doors to opportunities I would never of had if it wasn’t for the time that I put into that project. It’s one of the main reasons why I am here at Sundog.

When looking to get a strong foundation in your professional life, start by networking and getting involved. Once you do, ask  questions and use what you learn to help fill in some of the gaps in your career path. Finally don’t back down from a challenge and give every opportunity 100 percent people will notice and will want to help you reach your goals. It won’t always be easy, but the most rewarding things in life rarely are.