Networking is an important part of your university time, be it making new connections through friendships, school projects, volunteering, internships, or going to networking events where you get to connect with what potentially could be a future employer. Networking can open your eyes to new career pathways you hadn’t thought about or provide you with the information you need to pursue the career you have already sought out. Having partaken in different networking events myself over the course of my university degree, I decided it was time to challenge myself and partake in organising one when the opportunity arose.
So, what is it like to be a student organiser of a psychology networking event? It is time consuming, tiring, engaging, fun and, most of all, rewarding. The early stages require organisation on what tasks need to be done, who is going to do them and when. Making spreadsheets to keep track and making sure everyone is on the same page and staying on top of everything. Being the team-leader, my most demanding tasks were definitely making sure that everyone was on the same page, and that everyone did their assigned tasks within the scheduled time frame. While the tasks might sound simple and easy in nature, I can assure they were time-consuming. For example, making 40+ Facebook posts of attending professionals and organisations with information about their work and career area – takes time. Making posters for some of these professionals and organisations – takes time. Making name badges – takes time (especially if you are a somewhat perfectionist…). Making two sets of leaflets – takes IT skills, patience and… you guessed it; time. These are all tasks that are taken so easily for granted when attending such events, yet, hard work and time-consuming when you are faced with actually doing them yourself. Consequently, it makes you notice and appreciate all the hard work and the team effort that goes into creating that end result.
And, it is seeing that end result that is the most rewarding part. It is a great feeling when the professionals, from so many different organisations and career areas, show up all excited to talk to the students about their work and passion. It is also a great feeling when the students are having a good time and feeling excited, yet slightly nervous, about making these new connections and gathering information that will help them pursue a future career path. And when the fun is over and everyone leaves, you are left drained of energy, proud, tired, and ready to get into your pyjamas, feet up high, with your favourite Netflix show. Yet, if you ask me whether I would do it again – the answer would be YES! Attending a networking event might be rewarding, organising one takes that feeling to the next level. Seeing it all come together successfully is completely worth the hard work of organising it, and the tiredness that follows.
Taking on this opportunity and challenge has truly allowed me to grow further, both as a person, in terms of my organisational skills and confidence. This experience has required creativity, research into organisations and professionals, time-management, stress management, effective communication, teamwork, and leadership. Yet, I personally think being flexible and solution oriented with the sudden changes throughout the process, especially last minute, were the most important in organising this networking event. Even with plenty of preparation, there is only so much you can control. When the day comes, there is never a guarantee that everything will run smoothly and that all the recruited professionals and organisation, even the volunteers, are able to partake after all. It is knowing how to deal with these unforeseen circumstances that is important. Also, having that great team that works efficiently and effectively makes every part of the process a lot easier to take on and less stressful.
My tip for taking on opportunities like this or others provided by the university and the department - is do it. Not only is it another great thing to put on your CV, and another great reference to have about your work ethic, but it also helps you develop your employability skills and confidence in these skills and yourself. Let’s face it – the best way to grow is to challenge oneself, try something new, and push that comfort zone a bit further every time.