Should I Bother Networking? An International Student’s Perspective
Tailing close behind the success of SAMM’s Annual Networking Night (ANN) on the 28th of March, I took it upon myself to gather a different perspective on the outcome of networking opportunities such as this. Although I witnessed representatives from prestigious companies in Australia mingling with hopeful students, laughter and canapes didn’t blur an important question: How effective are these events for international students? As an overseas student myself, the hunt for employment post-graduation is tough at best and horrendously impossible at its worst. With the influx of international students coming into Australia and competition from local students, what chance do we stand in attaining success through events like this? I set out to find out the answer by conversing with fellow international student attendees at the networking night.
Whilst the world promotes a globalized platform of knowledge and community sharing, the world is still very much culturally divided. Norms of one culture can drastically vary with another when compared and the same goes for something as mundane as finding a job. Connections are the epitome of successful job searches and more often than not, positions are handed to known individuals through networking opportunities as opposed to external applications. Thus, what good can a university degree do, if practical skills are left untouched? Attendees of last week’s ANN shed light on this opinion: Learning to network is an integral part of transitioning from academia to the workplace. Identifying nuances in behaviour, character and linguistic capabilities play a significant role in fostering positive relationships with professionals, regardless of the job field. In fact, only a few things speak louder than a personable impression, and such can be much more advantageous than a stellar resume.
Opportunities such as SAMM’s networking night may not be the opportunity to land a job and for all international students out there, it shouldn’t be a reason to attend one either. Networking events are a way to understand the demands of a certain sphere of work or company. It is a time to ask questions and become aware of employment options. As opposed to what a few may think, a networking night isn’t an opportunity to exchange a few words and push your resume straight into the hands of a representative. Rather, it is a chance to understand what employers look for, the corporate culture of the workplace and many more. Moreover, it’s a chance to benefit from new ideas. Networking events may not lead you to your job, but it might lend a hand on learning about brilliant ideas from employers and companies that have proven successful. Networking events canvas as a perfect opportunity to learn about current trends in the industry. Solely focusing on academic pursuits may not keep you in the loop of industry happenings. Conversations with those breathing these trends work as a perfect way to merge academic and real-world knowledge.
Us international students might face greater difficulty in obtaining employment in foreign countries but networking events are still useful. From cultural learnings to industry trends and simply an event to socialize and build professional relationships, it’s a great opportunity that goes beyond servicing one’s unemployable status. Don’t forgo an opportunity to mingle with professionals as they are your key to understanding the inner workings of the industry you may not be aware of. It’s a rewarding experience that will only enhance personable skills and has you leaving with more knowledge than before you came in!