By Chris Salerno ’16, an Economics-Finance major and member of the Student Honors Council
Network, network, network. It’s something that’s drilled into your head from the minute you walk on to Bentley’s campus. You hear it from professors in every department, from alumni and even from fellow students. I always understood the concept of vigilant networking and its potential benefits, but never truly comprehended its importance until the fall of my junior year.
I had applied for a summer internship through BentleyLink and was given the chance to have an interview on campus. My interviewer was a recent Bentley alum whom I had met at a networking event one evening during the previous semester. I usually ignored those events because I thought they were to be useless, but for some unknown reason I decided to attend that particular one. Not only did the on-campus interview go smoothly, but we had a lot in common and knew many of the same people. Fortunately I landed a final round of interviews at the company’s headquarters. This was the first time I had ever experienced anything in a true corporate setting.
I arrived there with my “Bentley University” folder, sweaty palms and a pile of resumes large enough for every employee in the company. I sat there rather nervously awaiting my contact to come get me from the security desk, not sure what to expect. There was a man standing next to me whom I didn’t even notice until I heard him say, “A Bentley guy? Don’t worry, you’ll get the job.” He saw my folder and immediately wanted to know more about me.
Turns out he was a recruiter for the company’s biggest rival who was meeting a friend for lunch. He mentioned how many Bentley students he had recruited over the years before giving me his business card, asking for my resume and saying that he would be in touch; and he followed through.
It was this experience that opened my eyes to how valuable networking actually is — especially for those affiliated with Bentley. I previously held the misconception that networking meant that if your parents had a powerful friend you could get a job. Students at Bentley — and everywhere else — need to understand that they can launch their own network by simply meeting people and making a positive impression. Be confident and friendly when meeting someone, whether he or she is an entry-level employee or CEO. Making these connections and nurturing relation ships over time can benefit individuals both as a student and years after graduation.
After witnessing the impact networking can have firsthand, I decided to implement that tactic during my full-time job search. Throughout the summer I began researching different companies that I might want to work for upon graduation in May 2016. I soon realized that many of these firms begin recruiting in September at the earliest and often direct candidates to their website.
Personally, I’ve always felt that visiting “careers.companyname.com” is a rather discouraging process that provides little to no feedback, unless your resume makes it through the corporate grapevine. I was searching for a way to get ahead and thought of my experience less than a year prior. I had my shortlist of companies and wanted a way to reach out to employees within those companies.
I came up with the idea of utilizing LinkedIn to find young professionals who graduated from Bentley, with whom I had common connections (and in many cases, I actually knew personally from campus, but was unaware of their place of employment). I connected with them and sent a polite message inquiring about the position, the responsibilities and their overall experience.
I was blown away by the willingness of so many alumni to want to help! From the people I had never met before, I had expected either no answer or a brief summary of what they do. Instead, I received numerous responses that were two to three paragraphs long, with specific details and people to contact to increase the likelihood of successful application. A few alumni went so far as to give me their e-mail addresses and request my resume so they could personally pass it along to the hiring agent.
These two examples not only show the value of networking with alumni, but also ensure that I will continue to do so even after graduating from Bentley, as they prove networking can be extremely effective, and in many cases, necessary to land the perfect job.
This article first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Columnas, the Bentley University honors program newsletter