Networking & Relationship Building

Your sophomore year is a critical time to begin building your professional network and establishing relationships with individuals who are influential to you.

You'll want to establish relationships outside the classroom with professors whom you "click with" as well as with experts in fields that interest you. Both these types of connections can give you invaluable insight, advice, and direction, provide letter of recommendations, and could even link you with different opportunities.

Tips for successful networking

  • Learn why networking in your sophomore year is so important.
  • Understand the basics: Who should I network with? What do I say? Where can I find opportunities to do this? How do I approach these individuals?
  • Attend events on campus that provide opportunities to network and that help you practice interacting and develop your elevator pitch.
  • Do your research on the individuals you're interested to form relationships with.

Why is networking in my sophomore year so important?

This is the year that you'll start making and planning for both academic and professional changes. As a sophomore,

  • You'll be starting your major-related courses, with like-minded peers with whom you can network, grow, and engage in opportunities together.
  • You'll interact with professors who are involved in research and projects that you might be interested in.
  • You'll be applying to experience-building opportunities and will likely need letters of recommendation.

Understand the basics

  1. Whom should I network with? Everyone! Your network should contain your professors, peers, college staff, professionals in your field, employers, etc. You never know who will add to your experience and in what ways. Especially as you Explore Experiential Learning Opportunities, and Prepare to Apply to Opportunities, you'll need to request letters of recommendation and will benefit from the assistance of someone reviewing your application materials for you. Many of the individuals in your network will be able to assist with this.
  2. What do I say? There are different types of networking purposes. You may need assistance to proofread and fine-tune your application materials. Your network is a great place to get different perspectives and advice on paths to consider after graduation. You should consider what will be appropriate to talk about depending on the person you're interacting with. One great way to get started is do some research about that person and the work that they or their organization is involved with.
  3. Where can I find opportunities to do this? There are lots of opportunities to network both on and off. Check your email for talks, programs, and events available to John Jay Students. Find appropriate ways to engage with the people hosting the event, the speakers or panelist, and other attendees. Just be prepared to share a little about yourself and ask for their contact information to follow up. These are opportunities to push yourself out of your comfort zone and approach individuals.
  4. How do I approach these individuals? Building your confidence to begin conversations with people you're not familiar with is a critical piece of your growth in networking. The best way to get more comfortable is to practice. If you need help getting started, make an appointment with the Center for Career and Professional Development or attend a workshop. Completing activities such as Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch, which is part of Sophomore Challenge, will help you to feel prepared when approaching these individuals. ▴Top\

Attend an event on campus

There are a number of events that take place on campus, all throughout the academic year, which will make you more comfortable speaking to professionals.

  • The Center for Career and Professional Development holds workshops and events focused on developing your networking skills and providing opportunities for you to network. The Job & Internship Fair held each semester is a great event to attend whether you're looking for a position or just want to practice networking and interacting with potential employers.
  • Sophomore Programs with the Office of Student Academic Success Programs holds a number of specialized events to help sophomores get started. Check out My Sophomore Year to find the one that's best for you.
  • Academic Departments regularly host expert speakers who talk about interesting and important matters in their field. This is a great way to learn more about your major, but also to network with professionals currently working in the field. ▴Top