Networking at Delval

by: Alyssa Ruffolo

Today I attended Delval’s Networking Event 2017 at the Student Center. I did not know what to expect as I entered the building, but I was warmly greeted at the door, given a nametag, and briefly introduced to the setup and schedule of the event. I was impressed with the large selection of food and drinks provided; these were a nice touch and helped break the ice when I first arrived and did not yet know where to go or how to approach the many professionals surrounding me. After getting a snack and glancing over the schedule on the projector, I began to walk around and make conversation with other attendees.

After I learned some helpful tips and listened to a few influential stories from professionals/ successful college graduates, we were prompted to participate in the “speed dating” or “speed networking” rounds that were set up for us. We were allotted five minutes with each professional to introduce ourselves, briefly describe our majors, accomplishments, and goals, and then make connections and receive advice. This was a really great experience and I got to meet several people, although not exactly in the same field as myself, who provided inspirational advice and suggestions.

One theme I noticed in most of the professionals I spoke with was the suggestion to engage in the process of trial and error. Every single person I spoke with had changed majors and/or jobs several times before getting where they are now. When I asked the question “how did you figure out what you wanted to do” or “how did you get to this point where you are now”, the reaction was almost always something like a chuckle and an explanation of a long but meaningful process. One woman I spoke with is now working in Human Resources in the local area. She is originally from New Jersey, and started off by going to college in North Carolina for interior design. When she was not sure if that was her path, she moved back home to New Jersey to re-evaluate, took some time off of school, and finally took a few community college classes before deciding to go with a human resources major at the College of New Jersey. She told me that she did not regret going all the way out to North Carolina because the change of scenery and culture were a meaningful experience for her that taught her about herself and got her to where she is now. I can relate to that because I feel the same way about transferring to Delval as a junior. While some would look at this decision/experience and say that it may not have been the most responsible or the smartest, I contrastingly feel that this was a great learning experience for me. I learned so much about myself through the process and that is the most important thing.

I walked into this event expecting to feel out of place because I am Literary Studies major in a school that is predominantly science majors. I was worried that I would not know what to talk about with the people I met and I did not really expect to benefit from it much. However, I learned a lot just by listening to the various professionals, all in completely different fields, talk about their journeys, their struggles, and their methods to success. There were some trends I noticed including use of the trial-and-error method, the necessity of being flexible and keeping an open mind to moving around, and the importance of networking through sites like LinkedIn and events like this. It was beneficial to hear this from these successful people because they have credibility which allows me to trust their advice. I really enjoyed this school event and I think it is great that Delval hosts it every semester. I highly recommend that you come out next semester and just give it a shot.

originally posted: 2/19

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