How to Use Your College Network to Land a Job

Your college network is more valuable than you think. Check out these seven tips on using your network to land a job when you graduate.

Having a strong college network provides you with many perks. One of the main benefits is that it can help you find a job with a good company after graduation. But asking your friends, peers, and professors for referrals or other favors only works if you're willing to put in the effort. You'll need to improve your confidence and be patient during the process, because rarely do things in life come served on a silver platter. 

When looking for a job after graduation, you must harness the power of your college network the right way. Do this and you'll create lasting, supportive relationships and find your dream job—allowing you to find success now and in the future. Here are some tips to help you build your network at school and land a job post-graduation.

Maintain the right mindset

It’s vital to have the right mindset when reaching out to people in your network. Let’s say, for instance, you’re interning with a company and getting to know some of the employees. If you’d like a referral from someone you don’t know very well, take the time to get to know them. It's best to form an honest relationship with someone before asking for favors; they’ll be more likely to give you a referral if they consider you a friend or respected colleague. Plus, if they know you and your skills well, they’ll be able to tell their boss about your talents. In order to build relationships and “pitch” your skills, you must be confident. So work on your confidence and communication skills—your efforts will greatly benefit you.  

Related: How to Start Networking: Top Tips and Tricks

Get out of your comfort zone

Sometimes reaching out to people is uncomfortable, especially if you aren’t close. Even so, you're going to have to get out of your comfort zone in order to build a network. If you're not sure where to start, here are a few ideas: 

  • Meet other students and professionals at job fairs.
  • Join Facebook groups to chat with people about different industries.
  • Create a profile on LinkedIn and start reaching out to people in your field.

Start by connecting with others often to grow your network in size, then focus on growing those relationships individually. If you're an introvert, it may seem like an effort. But as you do it more, it’ll get easier. So get out there and start building your network!

Focus on developing real professional relationships

If all your conversations revolve around you, you have the wrong approach to networking. That’s not how you build friendships—and it’s not how you build networking relationships either. In order to build strong, lasting connections, you need to be interested in other people. You have to ask them about their interests and stay updated with their projects. After connecting with someone at a job fair or recruiting event, stay in touch; shoot them a text or an email every once in a while to see what they’ve been working on before asking if they know of any job opportunities available (more on this below). Also, get to know the students in your classes. Learn about their interests and goals. And if you hear about opportunities that might appeal to them, let them know! When you show interest in other people, they’re more likely to show interest in you. 

Related: 5 Ways to Build Rapport With People

Use local contacts to your advantage

Are you applying for local jobs? If you have contacts in your area, focus your networking efforts on them. They’re more likely to help you land the job you want. If another student or professor asks about your job hunt, be open and honest; tell them what kind of work you’re seeking and about the degree you’re getting as well as the skills you’ve developed. You may be pleasantly surprised when they connect you with a hiring company. If it’s a company you could see yourself working for, that’s even better! Even if they don’t know anyone who is hiring, being communicative will help keep you in mind if they come across job opportunities. This could lead to a gig sometime in the future.

Keep in touch after college

It's easy to lose contact with people after you graduate. If you’re not close friends, you might go years without talking to people you met in college. Everyone gets busy, which is why you need to go out of your way and make the effort to stay in touch. Send a brief email every once in a while. If you have a phone number, text when it’s appropriate. People appreciate these kinds of check-ins, especially these days when most of us are preoccupied with our own lives. If an old friend or colleague is available, arrange a time to get together; seeing people face to face can benefit you both. It'll give you the chance to catch up and converse about the latest trends in your industry, their industry, or both. Plus, you can share opportunities with each other—and if they work for a company that’s hiring, they may be able to put in a good word for you. 

Related: Networking With Alumni From Your School 

Offer help to your network in return

Make a point to offer help whenever you can. When you help people, they’ll want to help you in return. For instance, let’s say one of your peers started a company in college. Share it on your social media channels to help them grow! Or if that person is hiring and you know someone with the skills they’re looking for, offer to connect them to the other person in your network. Find out specific ways you can aid them professionally. Do this and they may return the favor and help you find a job.

Be patient

Building a robust network takes time, so don’t get frustrated. You’re likely to get along better with certain people more than others, and that’s okay. Focus on building mutually respectful relationships with a variety of different people in your college network. Be patient, as it can take a while to get to know new people. In time, you should have a steady group of connections—and when you have a reliable network, you can also help one another succeed!

Related: Job Search Advice for the Coronavirus Crisis

Frame your mind and put in the effort

Building a reliable network takes confidence, practice, and dedication—it won’t happen overnight. But if you make the effort, you’ll start putting things into motion. Landing your dream job is a big undertaking, as exciting as it is. Give yourself a better chance of finding the perfect position by getting to know a variety of people at school and those who work in industries related to your area of study—not only will you learn a great deal from them, but they can connect you with opportunities. In no time at all, you’ll be thriving in your new career, thanks to your smart college networking skills! 

Joshua Kuykendall is the business manager and team leader at the Parq at Iliff Station community in Aurora, Colorado.

Get more helpful advice for your future job in our Internships and Careers section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Nikole Dixon

Nikole Dixon

$500 Refer-a-Friend Scholarship Winner

Toward the beginning of last year, I was searching for scholarships to apply to through my school, town, websites online, and anything else I could find. I asked tons of questions [online] about scholarships and the best places to find them because I was desperate and needed as many as I could find. I came across a ton of bogus websites, but as soon as I found CollegeXpress, I knew I had to tell other people about it. It was definitely the most helpful site I came across, so I told my friends about it. CollegeXpress is definitely a website worth giving as a source.

Kelly Nogueiro

Kelly Nogueiro


For me, CollegeXpress has given me a valuable tool to use with my students to explore colleges easily beyond objective data. It helps me find colleges for students that fit their needs and wants that aren’t quite so black and white. It's a wealth of knowledge, and the Type-A side of me loves all the lists and the fact that I know they're coming from folks who know what they're talking about. I share it with colleagues and students alike, and it's always well received.

Leah Maciel

Leah Maciel

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me with all aspects of applying for college. The website is extremely easy to navigate and gives access to so many resources. I was able to research all of the colleges I was interested in, find out any information I wished to know about, and keep them organized in a list. I've also been able to research scholarships and save them as resources for later. I've used many websites in my college and scholarship search, and CollegeXpress has by far been my favorite one to use.

Casey Kammeyer

Casey Kammeyer

$500 Refer-A-Friend Scholarship Winner

I love the site CollegeXpress; it has been very helpful finding colleges and getting them to send me information. It has also been very, very helpful with finding tons of scholarships. Also, I told many of my friends about it and they love it as well!

Melanie Kajy

Melanie Kajy

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously during my senior year of high school. I started off using the college search to find more information about the universities I was interested in. Just this tool alone gave me so much information about a particular school. It was my one-stop shop to learn about college. I was able to find information about college tuition, school rank, majors, and so much more that I can't list it all. The college search tool has helped me narrow down which college I want to attend, and it made a stressful process surprisingly not so stressful. I then moved to the scholarship search tool to find scholarships to apply for because I can't afford to pay for tuition myself. The search tool helped me find scholarships that I was eligible for. The tool gave me all the information I could ever need about a particular scholarship that was being offered. The CollegeXpress scholarship search tool is so much better than other tools offered, like the Chegg scholarship search. Thanks to CollegeXpress, I was able to apply to tons of scholarships in a relatively easy way!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Miami University

Oxford, OH

Cottey College

Nevada, MO