BYU ranks No. 16 in best value schools according to U.S. News and World Report. Money magazine ranks BYU No. 15 in the country for schools that provide the best value.
While reviewers say a BYU education is valuable, applying education post graduation can be tricky. Experts say transitioning from college to a career is possible through networking and staying connected.
They say networking is not a strictly after-graduation activity. There is much that can be done while still in school. Finding and networking with mentors in a chosen field is helpful in pursuing a desired career.
“Networking and reaching out to mentors is something students should do now while they are in school,” said Jacey Carpenter, outreach coordinator at the BYU School of Communications. “Choose mentors that are in the field you are looking to go into. These mentors could even be professional faculty or faculty that have had work experience in the desired field you want to go into.”
Students can use different tools and tactics, such as websites like LinkedIn, to make connections.
“Through LinkedIn, students can see what other professionals in their desired industries have accomplished to get where they are today,” said Lisa Christensen, associate director of career advancement at University Career Services. “Students can see what professionals have their same educational experience and see the great variety of opportunities they can find in their own degree.”
BYU students can access the BYU LinkedIn network to connect with more than 175,000 alumni. On the BYU LinkedIn network page, students and alumni can connect with people based on their location, education, occupation and even specific company.
The BYU Bridge, a BYU Alumni Association job board, is another valuable tool in connecting with meaningful professionals and employers.
“(BYU Bridge) is a way we connect students with employers,” Christensen said. “All employers that are on the bridge are considered by the school as reliable and credible employers.”
Just as students do, recruiters also use LinkedIn and BYU Bridge to connect and find potential employees.
“As a recruiter, BYU Bridge has been a very important tool,” Qualtrics recruiter Leah Lehmuller said. “We look for those that are graduating soon. It is a great way for students to be out on the job market without even knowing it.”
Lehmuller says she spends at least one to two hours a day on LinkedIn.
According to Lehmuller, visiting companies in person is also valuable in showing desire and professionalism. This should done by dressing appropriately when visiting a company and bringing a polished resume.
“If you are interested in a company, make sure you are visiting with them at company events, career fairs and info sessions,” Lehmuller said. “Many of our hires are people that have had multiple touch points with our company. This has shown us that they are serious about an opportunity and that they are a good fit for the company.”
Lehmuller stressed the importance of doing the little things and maintaining a professional image when visiting and going into an interview.
“Before the interview, research the company to see what they do and their company growth,” she said. “If you are brought in for interview, we expect you to be prepared. Do the little things or the big things will not matter.”
Networking and connecting with others is important when looking to secure an interview and a job. But staying connected is not just for times of need.
“It is important to stay connected with people over time, not just when you are looking for a job,” said Mike Neuffer, director of marketing career development and employer relations at the Business Career Center. “Reach out to people and comment on their social media platforms. Congratulate them on their accomplishments and the new job positions they receive.”
Neuffer has seen that networking and connecting with others personally brings a greater return than other tactics to finding a job.
“Most positions are filled, not by job postings or applying online, but through the connections you’ve made,” he said. “Networking is also really important for being promoted within your own company.”
Networking with others is more than just reaching out and talking to people, Neuffer said.
“In addition to being connected, it is also very important to demonstrate value,” he said. “Consistently exceed people’s expectations. It is not just important to stay connected but to also add value to those relationships you create.”
Students may struggle to understand the value they can bring as they network and connect with others. Many students graduate with a wealth of knowledge but with little work or real life experience.
Seth Saunders, BYU alumnus and vice president of Blendfresh, said students and graduates bring a great value and perspective to companies.
“You offer a fresh view of the newest tactics and technology that is being taught in the classroom,” he said. “Do not only think about what people can offer you. Focus on what you can offer to others. There are a lot of values that you can offer to potential employers you network with.”
Saunders said each student has much to offer and that they should be confident as they are actively engaged in connecting with others.
“Be active on social media. Do not be passive but engaging,” Saunders said. “Do not just like a post or join a group. It is important to be engaging by contributing content, asking questions and reaching out personally.”
Through the BYU Bridge and social media platforms such as LinkedIn, students have an extensive network of people who can help. These connections are willing and able to help students transition from college to a career.
“Don’t be afraid but have confidence,” Saunders said. “The only thing to fear is that there are too many people around to help you. The only problem you will have is too many leads.”