Merriam-Webster defines networking as “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions.” And while that is true of networking at Concordia, there is also the additional aspect of community and dedication to helping students succeed at Concordia and beyond.
The Concordia Career Center aids students in the professional development of students and facilitates access to alumni and professionals in the world outside of Concordia. The Alumni Relations Office also helps to connect students with Cobber alumni who have experience, knowledge, or an understanding that could help current students make those connections with people in the Fargo-Moorhead community and around the world.
A significant component of networking is knowing how to network and making connections with people in your interest areas. For students at Concordia, there are multiple ways to learn how to network and to practice those needed skills. The Career Center is a major proponent of successful networking because they help educate students on how to network, practice their skills, and grant access to alumni, businesses, and professionals who will connect with students.
Jill Wenger, assistant director of the Career Center, says one of the staff’s favorite things about working with students and facilitating networking is being able to see students have those “aha” moments. For the Career Center staff, making the introductions to professionals or businesses that give students the reassurance they are in the right position, career path, or opportunity is fulfilling. And, of course, Wenger says they love celebrating student success.
“Going through the process with students and watching them work toward it and see it happen is so great,” she says.
Building Your Network
When you think of networking, people often imagine a complicated, intimidating process of communicating and adding connections. Concordia students have the opportunity to break through some of those intimidating factors and gain both confidence and connections.
“The Career Center strives to dismantle the assumptions about networking as a complicated process and instead focus on the natural, network-type conversations that can be had about a topic,” Wenger says.
Having natural conversations and asking questions are just as much an opportunity as a formal networking event.
The Career Center partners with faculty and student organizations to encourage and facilitate learning experiences that will help students gain confidence in their networking skills. With faculty partners, staff work to connect students with people and careers so they can learn where their degrees and experiences can take them.
A partnership between the Career Center and organizations such as Students and Alumni Linked Together (SALT) creates professional development opportunities and networking events like Careers Connecting Cobbers, which are designed to teach professional and communication skills as well as put them into practice. SALT also hosts Networking Untapped and Coffee with Cobbers to give students access to alumni in casual settings, to learn about alumni experiences, and to practice their networking skills.
One student who discovered the Cobber network advantage is Gunnar Fering ’23. He applied for an HR intern position at Aldevron in January through his Concordia Handshake profile.
“Before applying, I made several appointments at the Center for Student Success to improve my resume and network with alumni who now work as HR professionals,” he says. “As a result, I regularly receive emails with potential positions I might be interested in and have made new connections in the alumni office.”
In addition to meeting with the professional staff at the Career Center, he also formed connections with other students.
“During the interview process for Aldevron, I connected with Samantha Sabin, a senior at Concordia, who has been working at Aldevron as a marketing intern,” Fering says. “I added her on LinkedIn and she answered every question I had.”
His internship at Aldevron is just one example of the many ways Concordia students can successfully use the Cobber network to explore careers, build connections, and find employment opportunities.