by Beckie Stokes
We talk about it all the time – networking. We know how important it is. But what if you’ve lost touch with someone who was very influential at some point in your life? How do you reconnect in a meaningful way without sounding creepy or needy?
I recently heard a story on NPR interviewing Wharton’s very own Adam Grant, professor of management, that gives tips on tackling just that. You can check out the whole story here, but the takeaway is basically this: as with all effective networking, be genuine and make it about them, not about you. Emphasize that they were important in your life. Seek to catch up on what’s been happening with both of you – not with the end goal of talking about yourself and your aspirations and how they can boost you, but on what you can offer them. Whether or not you’re starting a job or internship in the coming weeks, no matter if you’re about to graduate (congrats seniors!) or you still have a few more years to go at Penn, it’s always a good time to get back in touch with the people who have meant the most to you.
The semester is almost over. For some of you, that means your undergraduate or graduate experience is also ending. We hope it has been everything you expected it would be when you matriculated. We also hope it has been more: more intellectual stimulation across disciplinary boundaries, more deep friendships, more (perhaps different) career fields to consider. For at least some of you, though, Penn has been more competitive than you had imagined in a negative way, as described by Jonelle Lesniak in her opinion piece in yesterday’s DP (“Why I can’t leave Penn saying that I loved it”).
While Lesniak understands that some competition can be healthy to motivate you to do your best work, too often she says, students at Penn compete to beat out a classmate. This sort of competition, she says, can “stifle meaningful working relationships.”
I agree. When you begin that new job or graduate program or post doc, do not be the person with sharp elbows, only out for him or herself. Your ability to work well with others, regardless of the field you are entering, will play a huge role in your success. You can only make one first impression. In your next stop, be kind and gracious. You will be more successful, and you will also be happier.
So enjoy these final days before graduation. And regardless of where your Penn education may be taking you, good luck. Those of us in Career Services have enjoyed working with you. If we can help you in the future, please let us know.