Networking and the importance of a good online profile
While you’re having fun at university, you still always need to think ahead and the earlier you start planning your future, the better. As sad a thought as this is, who you know in an industry is very important and could be the difference between getting a job or not.
Impressions are everything. If you have any guest speakers coming into lectures, go armed with a question or two and make sure you try to catch them to say hi afterwards. They may even be able to give you a business card with information that can go in your contacts book or give you a better insight into what you’ll be doing in the future.
Take any networking chances you get. For example, as a part of one of my modules I went to a games conference and I met so many people there and learned so much. Even if people aren’t going to remember you, you can pick up great tips and jargon to use in future interviews, and sometimes an amusing anecdote to throw into conversation. It also shows willingness if you’re interested. Your lecturers should be able to tell you when something like this is going on so don’t treat it as an excuse to take the day off.
It’s not just about meeting people face to face though. Even while at uni, get involved in as many clubs and extra-curricular activities as you can and make sure you try and fit in some relevant work experience in your field. Your university lecturers can help you with this. They may even have worked in the industry themselves and have a contact you can get in touch with. Lecturers are there to help you get the best out of your education, so don’t be afraid to approach them with a query either by email or in their open office hours.
Other little things you can do to help yourself is begin to develop a profile online. While this is more important for some industries than others, it’s still something to consider. If you’re the creative type, get some examples of your work online. Even things like getting a professional Twitter account or joining LinkedIn can lead to a chance of getting noticed and getting in touch with all sorts of important people, whether industry professionals or based at the university.
I know this seems unimportant now and a world away from where you are, but after spending three years in higher education, the real world is a rather scary place to go into unprepared.