By: Ilyssa Tamler – 2nd year – Behavioral Science & Health Education
The very first time I heard the term “networking,” it sounded so scary to me. My first impression was that networking entailed walking into a big room of professionals and having to approach random people and make myself sound “legit.” The thought of this alone gave me anxiety. I thought to myself that there was no way I would ever be able to do something like that. I found myself asking, “What if people don’t want to talk to me?” “What if I say the wrong thing?” “What if someone asks what I want to do after I graduate, and I can’t give an answer because I have no idea?” However, I have come to see networking in a whole new light since coming to Rollins, and I’ve realized that it doesn’t have to be scary at all. There are so many different levels of networking that range from building relationships with people you already know, to reaching out to those who you do not know. It is completely okay to start small and build your way up. The best part is that the more you network, the more confident you feel, and the more confident you are, the better you network.
- Networking with classmates.
The first step is to network with your classmates at Rollins. This is so easy that it may not even seem like real networking. However, it is so important. After you graduate, your classmates will become your coworkers and your supervisors. They will be the ones who know people who you want to get in touch with or want to work for. Developing strong relationships with them now will be extremely helpful for your professional career in the future. It also doesn’t hurt to have great friends who have the same interests as you!
How to network with classmates:
At Convos on Tap
Over Dinner or Drinks
- Networking with faculty.
The next step, once you build that initial level of confidence, is to network with faculty. Professors at Rollins are always willing to speak with students about their public health journeys. They do not judge you, but rather help you to find your way. Additionally, most professors are open to meeting with you just to talk, even if they have never met you before. I have also found that professors are often very willing to introduce you to other faculty, alumni, or other colleagues who share your interests.
How to network with faculty:
During Office Hours
Set up Meetings
- Networking with professionals.
The final, most difficult step is to network with professionals. I know this may sound scary, but I have learned that public health professionals, just like professors, are so willing to talk to talk to students about their interests and future career paths. Remember, they were once in your position. Even talking to just one or two people can open so many doors because they often know other people with whom they can connect you. As large as the field of public health is, it is also very small in that people who are interested in the same topic areas tend to know each other. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The worst that can happen is you learn something new.
How to network with professionals:
Attend Events at Emory for More Informal Networking
Attend the Career Fair
Attend Professional Conferences
My worst networking experience.
I was connected with a woman who works at CDC in my topic area of interest. I was so excited to hear about what she does and ask about available positions. By the end of the conversation, she told me she didn’t see me working at CDC. She said based on our conversation, it seemed like I would be much happier working for a local/state health department or a non-profit organization. This really upset me at first, but then I realized that she was right. Sometimes the worst scenarios still teach you something valuable, even if that is the lesson that some places just aren’t the right fit for you.
My best networking experience.
I attended the Career Fair last spring, and I spoke with someone from an organization I was interested in working with. The woman said there were currently no open positions, but she knew someone that I might be interested in working with. I handed her my resume, thinking that nothing would come of it. A couple of days later, I received an email from a professor saying that she thought my interests and passion aligned well with her research, and that she would love to speak with me about working with her. I have been working for this professor ever since!