Making Contacts as a Postgraduate Student

Undergraduate students rarely seem to actively engage in networking. They simply seem to get on with it within the structure of a degree course. Postgraduate students, on the other hand, will rely on networking a good deal more. Of course, some postgraduate students have already built a professional network of contacts if they have been in the workplace already and are returning to formal education. For others, who are stepping into postgraduate study after finishing a degree, they will have virtually no contacts to speak of. Either way, it is often by making new contacts that future career opportunities are opened up. Most people get into their position because they are known in that field, or a closely related one. So, to get on you really need to get on with networking .

The problem for many people with networking is that it sounds so superficial. However, postgraduate networking shouldn’t be like speed dating. Remember that making professional and academic contacts within your field of study is a completely normal part of life. If you are working in an area of study and reading a paper from an academic that you might like to quote or reference, why not contact them directly? Academics, even in other institutions and other countries, are usually pleased to be cited, especially if the area of research is a niche and not commonly known about. Talk to the academic staff at your own institution, too. Try to find other postgraduate students that are studying in related fields to your own and compare notes from time to time.

Postgraduate networking is not just about making contacts within academia, however. Think about the sort of industry you might go into following the completion of your studies. This may be obvious for some students, but it is less so for others. Not all postgraduate courses point to an obvious career path, after all. However, once you have identified a likely sector of industry check out any trade fairs that are associated with it. Most industries have trade fairs, or new product exhibitions, which will welcome students and you can usually attend them for free or at a reduced rate. It may sound obvious but get some cards printed with your contact details and don’t be shy about chatting to professionals and swapping business cards. You may be able to use them at a later date when you are looking for employment.

Try to widen your circle of contacts as much as possible. Many institutions will afford students the opportunity of studying abroad. Even if it is for only one term, don’t miss out on foreign study. There’s little doubt that it can really widen your circle of contacts . Not only will you be able to extend your network with foreign academics and postgraduate students more easily, but once you return home your UK contacts will probably ask for introductions, too. So, it can really help your networking to take off. You might even be considered a bit on expert in the country you have studied in, which is no bad thing.

The point about postgraduate networking is that you want to use it to improve your later career. However, try to keep your contact making informal. People can be put off a little by someone who is simply engaging with them because they are only interested in job hunting. Remember to give help to others as well as asking for it yourself because both are a means of networking.

Useful Links Keeping in Touch
Job Hunting Tips
Career Planning Tools
Tips on Your First Conference

2 comments

Damon Lowes Sept. 9, 2016, 2:35 p.m.

Networking is vital and has helped get my post doc. I have just submitted my corrections and hope to graduate summer next year. During my write up, I sent my thesis for proofreading as writing is not my strong point as my supervisor pointed out many times. However, I got to know the proofreader and chatted with her for advice in the area of my research. She put me in touch with a professor she has worked with and after interview I start in two months time.

Charlotte King Sept. 20, 2016, 9:03 p.m.

This blog about the Importance of Networking During Your Postgrad Studies:
https://www.postgrad.com/blog/Importance-of-Networking-During-Your-Postgraduate-Studies/
Has some great advice on networking as a masters student.

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