Graduate School Networking can Mean Career Opportunities

The four or more years you spend as an undergraduate certainly aren't a walk in the park, but your hard work in and outside of class is often balanced with memorable social experiences. Should you decide to enroll in graduate school, however, the academic challenges tend to be more plentiful.

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For this reason, you may assume that pursuing a graduate degree means saying goodbye to your social life, while the prospect of making new friends at school goes completely out the window. This is far from the truth. In fact, making friends in graduate school could have a major impact on your success, over the course of your studies and long after you graduate. Here are a few reasons why making friends in graduate school is so important:

You Make Career Connections

One of the biggest reasons why people go to graduate school is to improve their career prospects. A great way to open the door to new professional opportunities is to meet individuals who share your passion for a particular line of work. Graduate programs are great places to come into contact with such people.

Students in Master of Business Administration programs especially have a reputation for networking while enrolled in business school. However, you don't have to be pursuing an MBA to use some of these students' networking strategies.

Be sure to exchange contact information with your classmates, and if they're on LinkedIn, definitely connect. This could set you up with a strong pool of resources once your job search begins. According to Fox Business, for MBAs, networking with alumni is one of the most valuable means of locating employment opportunities. You could be in luck if a former classmate is now working at a company to which you'd love to apply.

"If there is a certain job or company you're targeting, start there and see what you can learn from an alum at the company," Scott Shrum, director of MBA admissions research at Veritas Prep, told the news source. "Even though most inquiries will not result in a job, you will learn a lot and build up your network in the process."

Everyone Needs a Friend

Whether you've got a major test coming up or you're tackling a confusing new concept, there's no denying that school can be stressful. When coursework brings you down, it certainly helps to have classmates you can turn to for some relief.

Perhaps they're just as stressed as you, or maybe they understand a concept you can't seem to wrap your head around. Either way, knowing your classmates ensures you don't have to go through graduate school on your own. The more you learn, the better off you'll be after you graduate and enter the workforce.

Teachers Have a lot to Offer

When you're younger, your teachers are the last people you'd ever think about befriending in the classroom. By the time you reach graduate school, however, you realize just how much your professors have to offer you.

While you may want to wait until after graduation to send your professors friend requests on Facebook, there's no harm in engaging them in conversation after class or during regular office hours.

The College Board's BigFuture website offers a few reasons why getting to know professors can be beneficial to college students. Of course, their words can also apply to graduate students. For instance, Amanda, a college senior, said that she was able to land an internship at a car company thanks to a professor who knew someone at the organization. Meanwhile, Ankur, another college senior, said the relationships he's developed with his teachers will ensure they remain his mentors for life.

If professors are experts in the fields they teach, there's a good chance they can offer professional advice and maybe even valuable contacts to students eager to succeed in these areas.

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About the Author: Laura Morrison is the Web Content Manager for GradSchools.com. She earned an MBA from the Rutgers School of Business in 2010

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