A Guest Post By Madison Thomas, Curry College Student
Recently, I began my journey studying abroad. Four months on my own in a new country. To some, this may seem terrifying, but I’ve been waiting for this moment for a very long time. Having the chance to study abroad is an opportunity that can open so many doors. Taking in a new culture, possibly a new language, and meeting people from all over the world is all very exciting. This semester I am studying in London, England and I am surrounded by such a diverse network of people. A semester abroad can be a great opportunity to create a global network and I’d like to share with you how to make the most of your time.
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
This piece of advice can pretty much be applied to any aspect of life, but it is very important with networking abroad. It may be easy to reach out to people and put yourself out there when you’re at home, but now you are in foreign territory. It may be intimidating to branch out in a new place especially if there is a new language involved or you just feel out of your comfort zone. You never know who you could meet and talking to new people may lead you to meeting the right person. At first glance, you may not think someone could be a networking opportunity, but they could be just the right person you were hoping to meet.
Before going abroad, narrow down the industry and companies you are interested in so you know what type of people to connect with. Since being in London, I have researched different public relations firms and reached out to professionals so that I can start creating my global network. Don’t be afraid to contact people in an industry that interests you because you never know where a simple conversation could lead.
- Use every resource you have.
The great thing about living in modern times is how easy it is to connect with people from all over the world. Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all platforms that can be of great use when it comes to networking. If you are looking for professionals in the industry LinkedIn will probably be the best place. Here you will be able to find many professionals in the city you are studying abroad. Since LinkedIn is a platform made for these types of connections, it’s probably the easiest option. Just don’t forget to polish up your page and make it the best representation of your experiences.
Platforms like Instagram and Facebook can be used in a variety of ways so don’t be afraid to use them to reach out. By following certain tags and locations, it makes it easier to see who is involved in those interests. For example, another student who happened to be studying abroad during the same time messaged me to make plans to meet up. She knew I was studying abroad based on comments we posted on Instagram. Now I have made an unexpected friend abroad, and since she’s a fellow blogger, it is a networking opportunity as well.
Another resource you can utilize are professors and professionals you already know. Before I left for the semester, my professor gave me the contacts of a few public relations professionals in London. This is a great way to use the network you already have to expand into a global one. By doing this, you already have a mutual connection to a new contact, which will make the introduction easier. Once you start meeting new connections don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is an opportunity to learn more about the industry that interests you in an international setting. Think of every new connection as a potential employer and be brave in asking questions you really want to know. These opportunities could one day lead to something much bigger!
- Stay in touch
So, you have created a nice network for yourself while abroad, now what? Keep in touch with these people! Don’t go home at the end of your program and not keep the connections going. You don’t want to have a global network then lose it once you get back home. Connect on LinkedIn and other social media. You should email them and be sure to keep in contact every once in a while.
From career advice, recommendations, or just a familiar face in a new city, these new people will most likely be willing to help and share their wisdom. You might not land your dream job immediately from these connections, but the more professionals you have in your network, the better chance you have of getting you there.
Madison Thomas is in her junior year at Curry College majoring in Communications with a concentration in public relations. She lives in Massachusetts and is passionate about traveling, social media and music. You can connect with her on Instagram @the_madds.