A couple of weeks ago I attended my school’s career fair as a Social Media and Marketing intern. However, upon my arrival that day I realized my job was to act more as an administrator rather than a job searching student. As a millennial communication major, I am surrounded by conversations and people networking almost 24/7. It is clear that when you are a student, everyone is trying to get ahead and jumpstart their future careers. However, after spending the day approaching conversations as a caring individual rather than a career-hungry robot, I came to the realization it is borderline upsetting that most conversations are always only to get something. Maybe it’s just my interpersonal communication major heart, but I genuinely love talking to other people and getting to hear their life stories.
When the day started I was nervous that I would have to skip talking to different companies. Would I miss an awesome opportunity? I had to put that possibility in the back of my mind because my job required more of me in all the hectic chaos. I approached employers and helped them set up their booths, showed them around, gave them instructions, all while live-tweeting and Periscoping. I started talking to people causally, with no underlying intentions of asking for something. I got to hear about how people met their wives, how long it took them to drive to Delaware, when they knew they were in the right career, and so much more. I was forming genuine relationships with people, not just an “I do something for you, you do something for me” companionship.
At the end of the day I already knew more about these people than I ever did intentionally networking. I was so inspired by alumni stories that I reached out and got their contact information so that they could write a blog post for our career services and have their success stories shared to a larger audience. I was expecting nothing from them, I just wanted to highlight their awesome achievements for them! Through this, people actually wanted to talk to me and I felt good about the process. I know I now have a greater chance to connect with the people I met after we became professional acquaintances first.
What I’m trying to stress is that even though networking is great, sometimes it’s just vital to get to know people. Sure you form friendships through work, and having a mentor is INVALUABLE, but it is also equally important to take a 30 minute career break and get to truly know people if they’re willing. Share the substance, smell the roses, and all the other cliches. The art of casual conversation is slimming in my age group, and genuine connections are what makes life worth living. Face-to-face time just enhances worldly experience- and when the conversation takes a break from strategic moves towards lighter tales of tastes or personal family tradition, you can actually begin to connect to the world around you.
Hope you enjoyed my tiny rant!