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Azhar Akesh's picture

Networking at the U

When students first come to the University of Minnesota, they get absorbed into this endless spiral of orientations, cultural programs, events and student organizations. Pretty much everywhere during their first week so much information is thrown out at them that they just can’t help, but feel very loaded with too much information that might seem very overwhelming at first. And then they suffer…classes hit hard, it’s actually time to study and they forget about all the resources, academic wise or health wise, how to de-stress, how to join organizations, and how to N-E-T-W-O-R-K!!!

I can’t stress enough how important Networking is, but not a lot of people take it seriously. Especially, in your first two years at your institution you just tend to think that it’s too early to apply, or you still have time to get a job, internship, or continue studies after graduating. Whatever it may be, networking can change your life and perspectives for the future. And it doesn’t have to be formal, which is the best part of it! You can literally ‘network’ while going to a student event on campus and meeting new people and setting yourself out there. Just remember one important thing: try finding something that will benefit you. If it has to do about finding out about interesting, but not hard, but still cool classes or maybe you’d like to intern somewhere, so it’s a great idea to know more about the people you’re talking to about their experiences, challenges and advice – that’s what can really benefit you.

Then, comes an even better part of it. Through networking, you can make life-lasting friendships either with your previous work colleagues, classmates, or even your favorite professors.

I, too, just like any other student at the U didn’t take Networking seriously, but then I learned about it the hard way. It’s my Senior Year at the U, and it took me some time and effort to find the right professor who was willing to write me a Letter of Recommendation. This stuff matters, so listen up! I’ve taken a lot of classes and even done Research with several Professors, but I didn’t quite connect on a personal level with a lot of Professors, which made it hard for me to find the Professor who knew me well outside of class. I wish I had someone tell me: “Azhar, you should go to Office Hours more and talk to your Professors!” or “Azhar, don’t get intimidated by your Professors, they’re just like us – normal human beings, so don’t be afraid”. Professors are a great resource, and they know so much that it won’t hurt to talk to them too often.

In terms of employment, I have the best employee-employer relations out there! My boss is amazing and I truly enjoy doing my job because of him. I got to participate in so many cool projects and programs with the recommendations from my boss. I don’t have to whine or complain to my friends about how hard or boring or bad my job is like my other friends, because I don’t have reasons to.

So, please! Starting from today, go out there and Network! You’ll thank me later. (P.s. your future boss can turn out to be your friend, you never know!)

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