Leverage Your Degree, Learn to Network

As a UCSB student, you are going to graduate with a degree from an esteemed research university and will be able to get any job you want … or so you think. Many of us have all the qualifications needed for a job, but are not hired because we fail to effectively market ourselves to employers. Is that our fault? Not really. Honestly, there aren’t that many places on campus to practice this invaluable skill. Having a stellar resume and a hard-earned bachelor’s degree proudly written at the top is only the first step to landing a job. But even if you have that, do you know where to send it? Do you have connections in HR departments at companies? I know I don’t. And I am frustrated that this school doesn’t do much to help foster those connections. How can I get across what I alone have to offer that no other college graduate has?

I know I am not alone. Most students struggle with deciding how to best market themselves and prove their uniqueness because it isn’t easy. It requires an analysis of who you are and what you want. The most important thing to remember is to be true to yourself. Even if you are not currently seeking employment, it is still critical to have an “elevator pitch” prepared just in case you run into someone who works for your dream employer. An elevator pitch is a one-minute spiel that sums up who you are and what you have to offer. This is your personal brand that you should know by heart and be able to share confidently with others.

Once you have your brand down, it’s important to build your network of connections. Many people will tell you that they heard about a job opening or even got hired because they had connections to the right people. As a UCSB student there do exist some connections to faculty and co-workers that we have honed over our years here. An expanded network means you have a greater chance that one of your connections leads to a job, internship or even just valuable career advice that changes your life. Plain and simple.

The good news is it seems that my concerns have been heard. The Career Peers at Career Services are hosting a special event to help people like me learn how to market themselves and make connections. They’ve called their event “Brand Yourself for Success: A Night of Networking.” While this is their first attempt at doing something like this, it is nice to know that certain departments on campus really are concerned with making sure we go into the real world with a skill to help us land jobs. On Thursday, April 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Mosher Alumni House, they are bringing in a keynote speaker to lecture on how to brand yourself for the job market. Following the lecture, they are bringing in over 20 employers from different industries as well as some faculty to listen and critique how we come across and our first impressions. From what they say, the event is aimed at providing valuable feedback on how well we are selling ourselves. The best part is that it is an opportunity to practice networking with professionals in a setting where they are completely focused on meeting you and helping you.

This event is a valuable opportunity for UCSB students to improve their professional image. Because lecture space is limited, those who want to attend must RSVP on GauchoLink by Thursday, April 19, to reserve a spot. So take advantage of this chance to develop your personal brand and mingle with professionals; I know I will.

Sarah Puckette is a fourth-year zoology major and A.J. Rawls is a fourth-year political science and global studies major.