As a student engagement agent, I’ve been advertising the webinars that have been going on the past few weeks a lot, so I thought it would only be fair if I attended one. In this blog I’ll be discussing my experience, a little of the content and what I got out of it.
To find the webinar I went to the Student Opportunity Careers website and reviewed my options. “Are you ready to meet your colleagues and make a good impression at work,” immediately caught my attention because it was all about networking which was unfamiliar to me. I’m a fairly confident person but I was unsure how one would make contacts and keep them; therefore, I booked it and began thinking how to prepare. There were some instructions, but I was slightly nervous because they said that we might be expected to participate, which made me wonder whether I should dress smartly. I decided to make myself look presentable but treated it like a lecture so didn’t go overboard.
In the end it didn’t really matter because they had some problems with their Q&A function so we couldn’t participate, and the screen only showed the slides anyway. I’d like to say that the presenters were very thorough in setting out rules for the webinar and went out of their way to provide a comfortable atmosphere. The only other slight blip was some technical difficulties at the beginning which I think is a predictable symptom of any online event as they said, “you never know what you’re going to get when doing something online.”
They began by outlining what networking actually is and proceeded to give lots of tips and information about how to do it successfully. A large portion of the advice surrounded elevator speeches which I’d never previously heard of. They are essentially a 60 second (maximum) speech that you give when you first engage with someone you hope to make a contact with, in order to pitch yourself to them. It should be unique, memorable, well-practised, tailored to the audience and summarise you as an individual.
We were given lots of useful resources to further our knowledge which I always think is a good sign of any educational session because we should always look to develop ourselves. For more information about elevator pitches and networking University of Warwick students can access a work experience Moodle course.
My favourite fact that I learnt during the session is that you are only ever 6 introductions away from anyone else in the world. I think that this is absolutely fascinating because it has been well researched and just think of the possibilities! You’re 6 introductions away from both David Attenborough and Donald Trump.
LaiLeng and Marion, the presenters, wanted me to give you the three main takeaways of the webinar which I think are all extremely important:
- Do your homework before going to an event to ensure you come across as well versed in whichever field you are entering
- Be authentic (based on your values) and consistent across behaviour, personal brand, elevator pitch, online presence
- Networking is not about short-term gain but cultivating relationships. One way of doing this is to always grow you’re LinkedIn profile. Networking is farming not hunting remember!
So that was what I learnt from that particular webinar but how did I find the experience overall? I’ve attended quite a few talks at Warwick and whilst there were a few stark differences like the inability to ask questions (until after via email) and the technical problems, in many ways I thought it was better. I watched from my desk where I felt relaxed and didn’t have to leave the house (meaning I could sleep longer which for me is always a plus!). Then there was also the fact that the slides were much closer, and I felt better able to follow along and make notes (I came out with 4 pages worth!). I especially enjoyed it because it’s difficult having little to do now so being able to engage with any new task really makes me feel fulfilled for the day.
In conclusion I would highly, highly recommend you attend an online careers event whenever they become available. As term is ending the webinars are over for now but I’m sure there’ll be other opportunities over the summer so keep an eye on the Student Opportunity website and careers Facebook pages. You can also book a virtual careers appointment if you’re getting the itch to organise and figure some things out in lockdown like I am!
Amelia Fairgrieve is a Philosophy undergraduate and a student ‘engagement agent’ at the University of Warwick. Recordings of the careers webinars can be viewed here