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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Making Networking Work: Seniors Reflect on Making Professional Connections

One writer explores how Dartmouth seniors have expanded their professional networks and what advice they have.

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Whether it’s for an internship, job or simply to learn more about a career path, many students use their social connections to gain knowledge and access to opportunities. Networking consists of establishing relationships with those who might introduce you to potential employers, send opportunities your way or simply just remember your name. 

But how does this manifest for Dartmouth students?

Shandukurai Chiuswa ’24 has seen the direct benefits of networking. With her freshman year affected by COVID-19, Chiuswa’s networking consisted of attending mostly online Zoom sessions. 

“My first introduction was doing these diversity events targeted at women and Black students,” she said. “Most of them would have people come and talk about their experiences.” 

After the events, Chiuswa would reach out to the speakers and send them emails to start a conversation, or connect with them on networking sites. 

“I met one of my most important mentors through LinkedIn,” she added. 

Center for Professional Development director Monica Wilson echoed the importance of networking for college students. She highlighted that the CPD offers one-on-one coaching, career fairs and employment opportunities and aims to help students on  their professional journeys.

“Networking is vitally important for long-term success, not just for your career, but for many other aspects of your life,” said Wilson. 

She explained that Dartmouth’s strong alumni network is a huge benefit of being a student here. 

“Dartmouth alumni are incredibly passionate about supporting students and other alumni,” she said. “When you reach out through Dartmouth Connect or through the Dartmouth LinkedIn Alumni Group, you’ll be able to seek advice on a wide range of topics.” 

These topics include trends in industry and hiring, pathways for career advancement, information about particular groups, interview tips, grad school advice and much more. 

Conor Roemer ’23, on the other hand, successfully landed a remote internship last winter by using his existing social network.

“I kind of got lucky. A guy in my fraternity who was a year older interned at this place and was like, ‘Hey, they’re looking for interns. I thought you’d be great’ and he put my name forward.”

Like Chiuswa, Roemer also emphasized the importance of Dartmouth alumni connections. He regularly sends cold emails using Dartmouth’s database of contacts, which he says can be “hit or miss” at times, but has proved effective. 

Networking is not always easy, and it can be nerve-wracking to put yourself out there. However, Chiuswa said in her experience, professionals were eager to talk to students and excited to help people interested in their fields of work. 

“Obviously, some people are not going to respond to you. But it’s always good to put yourself out there because you don’t lose anything. You have the potential to gain something.”

Wilson highlighted the specific platforms that students typically use to network. Dartmouth Connect is a networking website with only Dartmouth students, faculty and alumni — including those from Tuck, Thayer and Guarini. It offers both virtual and in-person networking opportunities, alumni job boards, discussion threads and a library of many career resources. 

While Chiuswa began networking her freshman year, Colin Donnelly ’24 started this Winterim, primarily using LinkedIn. He appreciates the toggle features to find people in specific fields, departments, and industries. 

“I like messaging alumni that are doing things that I could see myself doing,” he said. “Even if it’s not directly what I’m interested in, they might be able to guide me in the right direction.” 

Donnelly has used and had success with Dartmouth Connect as well. He finds Dartmouth’s alumni network to be strong and straightforward, even with those not much older than him. Donnelly is currently a Class of 1954 intern at the Hood Museum of Art, and after graduation, he sees that translating into a profession in an art museum or gallery that has pretty immediate hiring.

“Being a senior and having friends who graduated and already have jobs is really helpful,” he added. They can offer him advice and push him in the right directions when looking for opportunities. 

As an international student from Zimbabwe, Chiuswa has felt networking has been personally fulfilling . Instead of only utilizing connections to land an internship or job, she enjoys talking to people with similar experiences or backgrounds as her, who also work in the fields that she is passionate about. 

“I think my networks are more personalized; they are very tight-knit, and grounded in similar experiences.”

And although networking can be helpful, Roemer emphasized that it is not the end-all-be-all.

“I think people here are so stressed out all the time,” Roemer said. “We’re here with a lot of high performers and people begin searching for internships as soon as freshman year. I think I’ve gotten lucky in many ways, but you also have to have faith that it just works out.”