Networking skills should be taught in class

By Jamie Linton , Columnist

When it comes to looking for jobs and internships, LinkedIn is a goldmine. From sifting through job listings and scrolling through your alumni network to seeking out career advice from professionals and contacting recruiters, the website provides you with any resource you could need to jump-start your career.

However, while anyone with an internet connection has access to this platform, what can easily set one candidate apart from the next is the natural ability to network — a skill that is rarely taught in university classrooms.

As a young professional, any college-aged individual knows they must be their own advocate, especially when seeking out career advice. One of the best things about the University is the number of easily accessible, welcoming resources to prepare for interviews and career fairs, in addition to our huge alumni network. These resources are extremely helpful, but if you talk to more than one person, you’re bound to run into conflicting advice.   

While every path is different and there’s no sure-fire way into any career, conflicting advice can inhibit your chances of landing an interview or getting a job. This is why skills like starting a networking conversation, navigating the niches of LinkedIn and networking etiquette online and in-person should be taught in mandatory University classes.  

There isn’t an industry that isn’t constantly changing. In fact, the Institute for the Future conducted a study that found 85 percent of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. However, topics like how to answer common interview questions, when to contact recruiters and what  questions are acceptable to ask hiring managers should be taught as their own class to set a clear standard among the mounds of conflicting advice available online.

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    Although all students have access to general career services, the only majors that extensively cover career search and networking skills are those in the College of Business. At the end of the day, likely every college student’s goal is to begin a successful career, and non-business students are put at a direct disadvantage when we are not taught the same applicable skills as other students. If there are already existing curricula that can span across majors to better equip us in the job search, why aren’t they accessible and mandatory for all students?   

    If every University student went into an interview or career fair having already mastered these skills due to taking a mandatory class, it would set University students apart from other schools’ candidates. The University as a whole — not just business or engineering students — could establish a reputation as the most prepared of the pool.    

    Jamie is a sophomore in Media.

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