I’d say one of the most frequent pieces of advice that I have heard throughout my college career is “network, network, network.” When it comes to Advertising and Public Relations in particular, networking in college is extremely important. When graduation comes and your peers are looking for jobs in the "real world,” there is a lot of competition. Employers are going to look at resumes and suddenly having a degree isn’t too impressive when they recognize the name on the next one. If you ask Advertising Professor Frank Blossom, he will tell you something along the lines of “it’s about who knows you.” If an employer recognizes your name, you already have a leg up. If it’s because you’ve already met them, chances are you’d be more comfortable, confident, and have something to talk about. Ultimately, networking will make landing that job a lot easier on you and your nerves.
My very first class at Grand Valley, I sat behind some other first-year students that already had become friends through high school and some from Greek Life. The professor required us to go to a co-curricular event and there was a speaker that was going to be at the downtown campus that week. I heard them all talking about carpooling to the event and after class I made the split-second decision to ask them if I could join. That little decision, though it could have not gone as well, was one of the best that I have made and I had no idea that it would change my life. I became great friends with the girl, who is now my roommate, and through her, I met other people who lead me to PRSSA, GrandPR, and internships. Networking to just one person has helped me open more windows of opportunity for myself.
This is just a small example of how networking is a web of many opportunities. After joining PRSSA and GrandPR, I have had so many amazing experiences and met so many people. Networking means so much to my personal career and I know I wouldn’t be where I am, or as happy as I am, if I never took a second to shake someone’s hand. Every single time I can recall introducing myself, I remember the queasy nervous feeling I get right before. However, the feeling of regret and ‘what if?’ that I get if I back out is much worse. Of course, I have no crystal ball that will tell me what my life would be like had I not reached out, but I have a strong feeling that I took the right path by doing so. The internships that I have had and organizations that I am a part of give me the platform to meet more people, make good impressions, and continue to build my career. I owe it all to the networking I’ve done.
Another common saying that pertains to networking is that “you only regret the chances you don’t take.” Sometimes I have felt like I made a fool of myself trying to talk to new people or that what I was trying to say just didn’t come out right. However, the amount of times I have felt ‘dumb’ after introducing myself to someone is far less than the amount of times I have regret not taking the opportunity to introduce myself.
Networking is so exciting. You can talk to one person and it can change your entire life’s path, and chances are for the better. Why not try it? If it is something that scares the crap out of you, getting over that will make you so proud of yourself. Especially when one day you are getting ready to work at your dream job and look back at all of the tiny moments that got you there.
Sarah Pontbriand is a junior at GVSU studying public relations and advertising. She began her experience with GrandPR in May of 2016 as a team member working with clients over the summer. In the future, Sarah aspires to use her passion for problem-solving and crisis management in the fashion or sports industry. Outside of school, GrandPR, and PRSSA, you’ll be able to find Sarah dancing, painting, watching movies, or spending time with friends and family.