In business, it is often said that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. When it comes to landing a job and building a career, who you know can make a crucial difference. The idea of networking is to build relationships, identify different fields of interest, and attract more career opportunities before you need them. For nursing students, that means networking before graduation. Here are three ways students can benefit from networking.

1. You can learn from your professors’ experiences.

It’s the people you know who bring job opportunities to your attention and could help you to get your foot in the door of a lifelong career that includes professors, says Constance M. Dallas, PhD, RN, FAAN, an associate professor at the College of Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

“Few nursing students enter school with definite ideas about what type of nursing they want to practice or with an understanding of how many different types of nursing exist,” she says. “Take time to get to know us and find out what choices we made that lead us to where we are today. What are our passions? How were we influenced by our experiences in school? How did we end up teaching?”

2. You can take advantage of college resources.

Networking during student years is beneficial because there are more opportunities and resources available in colleges and universities in comparison to most workplaces. Networking at professional events, such as student nurse association meetings or honor society events, may bring forward information about new positions, new facilities, or even new projects that could offer professional development opportunities.

Jan Jones-Schenk, DHSc, RN, NE-BC, national director of the College of Health Professions at Western Governors University, believes joining a professional association or volunteering as a student is a great way to develop leadership skills and meet people who can help you problem-solve ideas related to your own professional advancement.

“For me, my work in my state nurses association led to me a position on the ANA Board of Directors and to become the President of the American Nurses Credentialing Center,” she says. “I didn’t set out with those goals, but I did set out with a passion for nursing and nurses and I found like-minded colleagues right in my own state.”

3. Sometimes the most random event can have an enormous impact.

While working as a student nurse at a humanitarian event, Delilah Villarreal, RN, a regional nursing director for Epic Health Services, was able to meet many influential physicians and nurses.

“They were able to share their work experiences with me and also offered to write letters of recommendation on my behalf,” she says. “My letters of recommendation helped me land my first job and start my nursing career.”

Networking with other nursing professionals allows nursing students to learn about real-life nursing experiences in advance so that they can make the best possible decision for their future when the time comes.

Terah Shelton Harris
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