Building Your Network

Posted: December 7, 2011

"It’s not just what you know, but who you know!" One of the many benefits of being a student in the Penn State College of Ag Sciences is the countless opportunities to network with alumni from the college.

The term “networking” is tossed around a lot in college, and I know as an incoming freshman, I never really knew its meaning or benefit to me as a student. Let me explain what networking means to me, and how I have come to utilize networking to benefit me. 

As a freshman, I came to college unfamiliar with professors and unsure of what path I would like to take in my college and professional career.  This immediately struck me as different from my high school, where it was common for you to personally know your teacher and for them to know you. My high school’s average class size was 15 students and it wasn’t unusual to grab lunch with your teachers! Entering a 300 person biology lecture on the first day of class freshman year was a different experience, and eye opening, to say the least! As I advanced through college, as a sophomore and now as a junior, I have begun to see the importance of having personal familiarity with professors and a new sense of desire to have a grasp of what my professional future might entail. As I begin to fill out applications for internships, I am finding that references are required to verify me as a student. 

This is where the idea of networking comes into play. Networking to me means connecting with individuals who share a common interest or goal, in order to strengthen yourself both personally and professionally and to create opportunities.  It has become apparent, as I search for an internship and even a job, how important it will be to have connections with professors who can vouch for me as a student, along with alumni and those in the industry who can guide me towards a career path. It is very encouraging and helpful to see a past graduate succeeding in a job that I could see myself working in!

I was able to experience the idea of networking firsthand a couple weekends ago when I participated in the Ag Live tailgate.  Over 400 College of Ag Sciences alumni returned to Happy Valley for a tailgate at the Ag Arena.  At this tailgate, I was able to meet and talk with past graduates of my major and seek advice ranging from what field would be smart to look into to what is the best way to begin the search. Acquaintances such as these alumni could open doors for me and help me make better career choices. Another good networking event, held every fall, is the college’s Alumni Mentoring Workshop. At this event, students can meet and receive career advice and critiques on resumes from college alumni in ag sciences fields.  Many different majors are represented and it is a fantastic opportunity for students to meet individuals. The saying is true: “It’s not just what you know, but who you know!”

The alumni in the College of Ag Sciences stand out to me.  While every alumnus who returns to Penn State does so with a feeling of pride and dedication, Ag Sciences alums demonstrate an extra passion—they exude loyalty to the college and the ag industry as a whole and love to mentor students.  Our college’s alumni are proud, and even prouder to get to connect with future alumni of the college. Through this loyalty, connections are made, and through connections come opportunities. 


- Jessica Moldofsky