Sometimes, when we are students in graduate school we can suffer from a bit of tunnel-vision. We have put so much effort into writing our statement of purpose and getting recommendations from the people who can help improve our chances of gaining admission the most. We study for the GMATs, GREs, LSATs and MCATs. We focus on these things so much that once we get accepted and start school we shift our intense efforts to making sure we make the most of this opportunity by getting top grades. I’m certainly not saying that great grades are unimportant. They certainly are important. However, by focusing solely on the final grade make-up for each class… by putting the most attention on the assignments, exams and projects that represent the largest percentage of our final grade… we may miss out on one of the best opportunities in graduate school: networking.
Networking has many benefits for graduate school students. Early on, making contacts with peers will help you surround yourself with a support network of people who know exactly what you are going through. You can support each other through times when you think you won’t be able to finish the program and form a bond that will last long after graduation. Some other people you will want to connect with are your professors and graduate advisor. Not only can these people be great resources to you after you graduate - providing job references and potential job prospect contacts - but like your peers, they can be wonderful support resources while trying to successfully navigate your graduate school experience.
Lastly, your graduate school will likely have opportunities for you to network in the community. Look for opportunities to volunteer your talents to a local charity event. Attend university events that will put you in contact with local business leaders. Even consider short-time part-time job assignments with local companies to start building your reputation. Not only will these activities give you a list of built-in contacts to reach out to when you’re ready for your new job search, they will also help you through the stress of graduate school by giving you opportunities to build long-lasting relationships in between painstaking research projects and group assignments that make you want to pull your hair out.