The prospect of reaching out to alumni and industry leaders seems daunting to most students. For students who are more introverted, networking can be as hard as taking a prelim.
So, the Arts & Sciences Career Development Center hosted its first “Networking for Introverts” workshop, led by Ana Adinolfi, senior career associate, Oct. 19 in Goldwin Smith Hall. The workshop was designed for students to learn the basics of networking and to give them the tools to navigate discussions with alumni and employers.
“The Career Development Center asked Arts & Sciences Class of 2016 graduates how they obtained their jobs,” Adinolfi said. “More than half of the Arts & Sciences class of 2016 graduates obtained their current job directly from some form of networking with people such as campus recruiters, alumni, and faculty members.”
The workshop began with an interactive activity in which students were asked to text in their responses to questions such as “Coming to this session, how did you feel about networking?” Their answers were immediately displayed on a projector showing that 60 percent of audience members felt uncomfortable about networking.
“I’m also an introvert,” Adinolfi said during her presentation. “Introversion does not necessarily mean being shy. Introversion refers to where one gets their energy from. Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary pursuits.”
Adinolfi defined networking as an ongoing process of purposeful relationship building and interactions with people. Networking can be casual, such as reaching out to an old school peer via text, or formal in the cases of informational interviews or networking events.
During the presentation, Adinolfi stressed the importance of networking and explicitly talking about your career goals, while she also shared the types of networking for students and Cornell resources students can use to expand their network.
“Networking is a great way to find out what the working world is like, how to be a better applicant, to be in the know about opportunities and to expand your network,” Adinolfi said. “Networking isn’t just about talking to strangers; it can be about those people you already know. You can reach out to people you already know such as your parent’s friends, relatives, people you went to school with and professors.”
Introverts can also take advantage of information-gathering resources such as LinkedIn; on-campus resources such as the Alumni Connections Program (an online database of alumni willing to allow students to shadow them); or in-person resources like resume reviews or mock interview sessions in the Career Development Center. Additionally, the Career Development Centre can help students to practice their introductions or deliver their personal pitch to gain more confidence.
“Introverts stand out for their complexity and being genuine,” Adinolfi said. “Because they tend to want genuine, and not just surface-level, connection, introverts have a special capacity to reel people in, which is a great component of excelling at networking.”
Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.