The other day someone asked me a familiar question, "Why did you come to Michigan?" I used to answer with such authority that it was the lively spirit and passionate culture at U of M combined with its strong athletic programs and engaging academics. It was a perfect fit for me because I wanted a strong education as well as a school environment that fostered spirit and athletic achievement.
However as I have spent the past three years getting to know the campus better I've come to realize that there is one thing that truly separates Michigan from its counterparts - and that's its people. The people you meet here are incredibly bright and well-rounded. They are some of the most intellectually curious and stimulating people you will ever meet. The chance to interact with them on a daily basis is something you simply cannot afford to pass up. In my Economics of Education class, the professor argues that it is not the education that U of M provides that makes it more expensive or "superior" but rather the people you interact with.
Why is that so important? Because too often, students come in to the Career Center looking for a cure-all solution, a quick fix that will somehow solve all the problems they have with regard to resumes, cover letters, interviews and anything else they may encounter. In reality, the solution might just be creating their network and expanding their community. The University of Michigan has the largest alumni network in the world - think about that for a second. The people you meet and the connections you foster while here at U of M could turn out to be a lead to your next job or your next client. Depending on your network the possibilities are endless.
So what are some ways to start building your network? You can start off by scheduling an appointment with one of The Career Center's advisors to gain a better understanding of how the people you know (i.e., your community) ties in to how you connect with and present yourself to employers. Having that understanding of why your network is so important and how you can use your network to reach your career goals can be a great incentive for building your network. You could also speak with your professors and peers, as well as student leaders, as that too can be a great way to build and develop key relationships in your community. Finally, get online! Create a LinkedIn profile and join the huge Michigan alumni network - it's a valuable tool.
In this ever-growing world, it is becoming more and more critical to establish a network and community that you can tap into no matter where you are in life. It's your senior year. If you haven't already begun to build your network then at least know that it's not too late to start. You certainly won't regret it down the road.