Helping students network over the holidays

Before you head out for the holidays, send your students and interns an email or post a notice in the career center, department office, or school newspaper, suggesting ways to network over the holidays. Whether students are going home or on vacation, they will be around a different set of people than at the university.  If some students are doing Winterships or taking short intersession classes, remind them of how to take advantage of new people and places to build their networks.

Many students will be seeing lots of relatives that they haven’t seen in ages. Ask them to think about their answer to the “So what are you going to do when you graduate?” question before they see relatives. This way, they can not only be clear about their own aspirations but also have a few prepared questions to ask the relative. A party with old friends from the neighborhood or high school is another great opportunity for networking. Suggest that students ask questions such as “How did you get into this industry?” rather than talk about themselves. The respondent may be a good source of career information.  All social gatherings and part-time jobs offer networking options.

Another excellent source of holiday networking may be with alumni. Most schools have alumni groups in major cities. These organizations usually hold holiday gatherings and welcome current students. Your alumni office can provide a list of chapters.

Finally, if students are travelling during winter break, recommend that they research companies in those locations for potential internships and then contact the appropriate person for an informational interview. Encourage students to always travel with a resume—at least on a flash drive.

Challenge your students to see how many names they can add to their networking list during the holidays. Emphasize that it’s the most valuable gift they can give to themselves.


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