NetworkFest Gives Students Something to Talk About

Posted: February 20, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

The hardest part about networking is breaking the ice. During the NetworkFest hosted by the School of Management on Wednesday, more than 150 students learned the art of conversation by practicing their networking skills on real professionals in a “mocktail” style event in the SUB II Ballroom.

“According to a study by the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 60 percent of employment connections are built via networking, and every day it becomes more and more important for individuals to build and nurture those connections,” says Julia Makela, career coordinator for the School of Management.

All participating students attended a networking workshop prior to the NetworkFest, which taught the foundations of successful networking interactions. During the workshop, students learned how to start a conversation, what kinds of questions to ask, and how to follow up after meeting their contacts. The NetworkFest then gave them an opportunity to practice what they learned.

More than 40 alumni and other business professionals from local companies such as Terrapin Systems, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and HydroGeoLogic Inc. participated in the event, and networking coaches were on hand to help students remember some of the tips they learned in the workshop.

“This was not a job fair,” says Makela. “It was an opportunity for students to explore topics such as academics, career field, industry trends, and employer information with professionals already in the field, and learn how to comfortably start a networking conversation.”

In addition, students were able to get feedback on their overall networking performance from employers with whom they spoken. Students handed out cards with their name and major, and the employers were to rate their performance and send the cards back to the students with advice or comments.

School of Management Dean Richard Klimoski

greets students at NetworkFest.
Photo by Martha Martin

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