During your studies, you are meeting with your peers and students from your field but also other fields on a daily basis. It is useful to realise, that each one of you will be employed within a certain industry and you can bring each other value in form of information or future collaboration. Therefore, by organically growing the circle of your friends you are gaining the future network that could help you to advance your career. Maintaining respect and good relations could be a great investment for your future.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your usual friend circle in the school! Engage in your free-time activities, volunteer, join the club or association or engage in any form of community activities. In case there are no existing volunteer or community activities in your town/community, don’t be afraid to start one, encourage your friends and classmates to join.
Common experiences are bringing people closer together and help to build the tights that might serve in the future.
Another opportunity for building an international network is international volunteering (for example European Solidarity Corps program). Besides getting new skills, working, you will get a chance to help communities either abroad or also in your own country. You can participate in volunteering, traineeships, or local Solidarity Project. These can be in a wide range of fields – education and training, citizenship and democratic participation, environment and natural protection, migration, culture, and many others. Many volunteers also stay to work in the place they did first some volunteering program.
Short-term international educational opportunities such as youth exchanges, internships, or training also work camps, and summer schools are a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests and build a network. It is useful to keep an eye on the websites of the organisations that are offering these programs for young people (e.g. in Slovakia ADEL Slovakia; in Czechia Czech National Agency for International Education and Research and others)
This is a valuable asset that not many have! Use your time abroad to connect with your peers. Common experiences help to build genuine relationships that are a great base for networking.
Outside of the school, the ideal places for networking are conferences, meetups, trade shows, or specialised networking events. Conferences and workshops are ideal places to engage in discussion with strangers easily. Usually, there is a topic you would most likely have in common, which is a good starting point in order to start the discussion. For academics, the specialised institutions usually advertise the conferences on a specific topic and it is worth following them online. Networking events in the professional area are also advertised on LinkedIn. Career fairs are also great networking opportunities. You can find information about these events on LinkedIn, Facebook sites of the organisations of your interest, or online on for example https://www.eventbrite.com, https://www.meetup.com, https://www.bizzabo.com
Don’t be afraid to take an initiative into your own hands! During your studies, you can participate in a local internship in a place of your residence. You can learn about them by following the companies of your interest that might offer internships, local NGOs, or institutions from your field. It is a great idea to also contact the companies first, show your interest and skills and create opportunities for yourself even if there is no internship offer advertised.
Networking opportunities are also in the online space. The most popular professional social media is LinkedIn, where you can create a profile and approach experts from the field of interest. You can start building your network here by creating a profile and connecting with your current and former colleagues. You can share ideas and insights on your posts and start virtual conversations. Don´t forget to use relevant hashtags to reach beyond your first-degree connections. On LinkedIn, you might also take advantage of connections that people in your network have and ask them to introduce you to relevant contacts from their network. This might help you to make the first step in order to get information on the career you want to pursue.
Another possibility is to join the same interest groups on for example Facebook, where you might find people from your field. Another professional social media is a Hamburg-based career-oriented social networking site XING. The site is primarily focused on the German-speaking market, alongside XING Spain, and competes with the American platform LinkedIn.