The importance of networking: How networking helped me to get more opportunities as a student

The importance of networking is something you learn with time. Once you enter adulthood, you start to realize that you are not going to progress much over time without initiating new connections with people at both informal and formal levels.
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What is networking and is it such a hard thing to do?

As we all know networking involves people. Simply put, connecting with people to exchange ideas and information is what we all call networking. When you enter college and want to make new friends, you ought to network with your colleagues to find your own circle of friends. Similarly, when it comes to building up your professional life, you should connect with like-minded people and experts in your field to get insight into your field and available opportunities. It seems like a hard thing to do but trust me, if I could do it, you could too! Next, I will share my experiences in networking once I became a master's student at the University of Oulu.

As students of the LET master's programme, we are constantly exposed to new problem-solving cases in various courses. In our projects, we try to satisfy our clients by giving them the best solutions for their problems. It is crucial that we create a professional bond with our clients as it would help us to carry out our activities more efficiently. Hence, our networking skills are automatically improving. This is a win-win situation; while our clients get the solutions for their problems from us, we get the opportunity to get exposure to various fields that are in line with our scope of education.

As job seekers in near future, we are able to network with professionals who will help us to start our careers.

In the LET master's programme, it is mandatory for students to complete an internship in a relevant field. This information was given to us during the first semester of the programme and it encouraged me to network with people in interesting fields on virtual platforms like LinkedIn. Whenever a guest lecturer, a client or alumni participated in our courses, I ran a background check on their professions and respective fields. If I could connect with them via LinkedIn, I send them an invitation to connect with me with a brief self-introduction of myself. This habit of mine did not go to waste when I tried to look for an internship.

When I had to look for an internship position while I was back in Sri Lanka due to remote studies, I was uncertain that I would be able to find a job position in Finland. Yet, I reached out to many people via emails and LinkedIn, to see if there are any interesting and vacant positions that would suit my profile. Surprisingly

I got a couple of opportunities and I chose to do my internship at a startup company!

During my internship period, I was able to get to know more people online and offline. It was a two-month internship, but I remained working there as a part-time volunteer. This led me to get even more interesting opportunities. I became a member of a formal organization in Finland, I was able to become a freelance writer, and many more! I became more confident and hopeful about finding a suitable career after my graduation.

Now, when I look back, I know that I was able to find these good opportunities all thanks to my networking skills. Once you start to network, you will realize that there is no such thing as no opportunity. There is always an opportunity waiting for you. So, start networking and believe me, you will be thankful for it one day!

About the author

Hansika Ambahelagedara is a second-year master‘s student of the Learning Education and Technology programme offered by the University of Oulu. After arriving in Finland, her passion for nature photography has grown a lot given the fact that Finnish nature has so much to offer when exploring the wilderness.