Networking During a Pandemic: Expanding Social Capital While Social Distancing

Screenshot of the Handshake website, which is located at the bottom of MySHU.

As a result of the recent on-going pandemic, many people continue to adapt to new lifestyle changes. As students, it is especially important to continue to advance in your careers despite the challenges of facing the new normal.  

Remote work has been the new alternative to face-to-face jobs and internships. With this comes the importance of learning new skills and social behaviors to keep in touch virtually, whether it be with employees, co-workers, customers or peers.  

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has changed the way businesses operate and interact, but what does that mean for students? When it comes to networking, how can students cultivate relationships that rely so heavily on personal interactions when students should be social distancing? 

Some experts say that 70% of people ended up in their current position thanks to networking.  Others say it’s more like 80% or even 85%,” said George Carter, Assistant Director of Experiential Learning and Employer Relations at Seton Hill. 

“Your network should include people who are willing to give you information about their career field as well as feedback on your own career development. It should also include people who may be in a position to share information about internship and job opportunities within their organization or elsewhere,” Carter said.  

Information for networking opportunities is often shared via the Career and Professional Development Center. Beyond these opportunities and your circle of friends and family, Carter recommends expanding your network through LinkedIn and the Alumni Relations Career Connections program.

“This program is a way for students to grow their networks and make connections among alumni with similar career interests or that work in a profession a student is interested in,” said Callista Arida, Alumni Relations Associate at Seton Hill. 

Students can gain access to the Alumni Relations Career Connections program by referral through a professor or by reaching out to the Alumni office to get matched with an alumni.  Students can also go to www.shualumni.setonhill.edu and fill out an online form.  

“In the environment we are living in now, it can be challenging to find internships and jobs because you can’t attend networking events like you could have before,” Arida said. “The Alumni Relations Career Connections program is a great way to make those connections because you can do it virtually. Making connections early on is so important because you can turn to these people if you need help.”

Many networking opportunities arise from job or internship experience. Despite the effects of a global pandemic, there are still many opportunities for in-person or virtual jobs and internships. 

“The Career Center is working very closely with our employer partners to learn about new internships and job opportunities that exist right now,” Carter said. 

Along with weekly emails tailored to each student that highlight new opportunities, the Career Center is also hosting the Fall 2020 Seton Hill University Virtual Internship and Job Fair on October 14th to assist students in securing a job or internship.

“Students should proceed confidently and continue to build their knowledge, learn new skills, and develop new talents. Being proactive, open-minded, and persistent is always important, too,” Carter said. “The Career and Professional Development Center Staff is ready to provide job search assistance every step of the way. Remember that our services are a lifetime benefit for all Seton Hill alumni,” Carter said.

While these times of uncertainty affect many aspects of daily life, it doesn’t have to delay your professional development. Connect and build your network by talking to your advisors, professors and peers for new opportunities.

It is more than possible to expand your social capital while still social distancing!

Published by Caitlin Srager

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