It’s that time of year when freshers take their first steps into our universities, heads buzzing with excitement and trepidation in equal measures. As a first year student, your focus (perhaps after freshers’ week is over) is on getting the qualifications and skills you need to succeed in your chosen career.
But this is also a critical time to start building a network of personal and professional contacts you can call upon to support you in climbing the ladder to your future career. But to differentiate yourself in today’s competitive jobs landscape, taking a more global approach may reap big benefits. Here are my three top tips on just how to do it.
Now more than ever, graduates compete on a global stage for career opportunities, so spread your net wide when it comes to meeting new people and forging relationships for the future. One great example of international networking at its best was Gareth Southgate’s recent success in leading a fresh-faced England football team to the first World Cup semi-final in 28 years. Part of Southgate’s strategy was to study the game tactics of top US basketball teams. An internationally renowned psychologist was also drafted in to strengthen the players’ mental resilience – rather than opting for someone closer to home.
The outcome for the England team demonstrates just what can be achieved when you build strong relationships with friends and business associates from across the world. Meet ups on holidays and trips to international conferences are a great way to increase your address book. And in my opinion, it’s never too early to start putting the foundations in place for future success.
As Hilden Allgaier from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School says, “Employers are global and expect students to connect with people beyond their countries, that would make them relevant and more interesting. Having a network of classmates and other contacts in your home country is no longer enough to open all the doors to a successful career.”
New friendships and relationships can often be forged through the use of online student forums, many of which attract people from all over the world. Take a look at The Student Room, visit your university’s website to find out about internships and job opportunities or simply Google your interests to find a student community that interests you. Whether you are studying medicine, mathematics or media, sharing your passion with top tutors and students from overseas will help to build your knowledge and give you the chance to engage with like-minded people in your chosen field who could become lifelong contacts.
Make the most of the summer
Start planning your summer break early as the warmer months can offer a fantastic way for students to meet others and build their black book of contacts.Many international students come to the UK to take advantage of the educational and personal development courses run in our top universities. So, take up the opportunity to expand your knowledge of physics, biology or theology while developing some useful contacts – either as a student or as a staff member, sharing your subject passion with global students. While the qualifications you gain over the next few years will be vital to helping you launch your career, it could be your fellow classmates, professional contacts and new friends made during the summer that will really help you to stand out from the crowd.
Content courtesy of Harry Hortyn. Harry is a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of Oxford Summer Courses, who has built a global network of contacts to help him develop his own career and business.
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