Feb 222011
 
Authors: Phoenix MourningStar

The job market: It’s enough to drive you crazy. People shouldn’t have to have an advanced degree in economics to find a high-school-level job. So what can you do?

Networking, people. Network everyone and everything –– that’s the way to find the job you want.

For a split-second, I let negative thoughts about the job market float through my head last week as I boarded a bus headed for Denver. It was Thursday evening on the southeast corner of campus. The Denver Alumni network had arranged a networking event for CSU students to meet with a few dozen alums.

The event was free and provided free transportation, food and beverages and access to some successful former Rams from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Given the competition in the job market and the success of the recent job fairs on campus, I thought the bus would be packed. To my surprise, I had a nice row of seats to myself and comfortably stretched out making small talk with some of the other passengers.

We arrived at the venue, the lobby of a CSU alum-owned bank in the center of Denver. Nice. We did not get a private, unescorted tour of the vault, but we were greeted with familiar faces from campus and a room comfortably filled with Rams of all ages, professions and dress. About half looked fresh from their offices in suits and ties. Others appeared to have swapped out the power suit for a sport jacket. Almost as if to ensure a relaxed, yet professional environment, in typical Colorado fashion, I spied a few cargo-khaki pants just long enough to cover a pair of crocs.

Moving into the center of the crowd, there was a mix of conversation between old friends and hardcore job seekers hoping to get that inside line on the yet-to-be-posted job. Nice –– go get ‘em.

I always feel funny about networking events ­­–– they tend to have the feel of throwing yourself a surprise birthday party. If everyone is there to network, can’t we just go get a drink? Why don’t we just hang out at the coffee shop down the block from the place we want to work in the hopes that we’ll run into one of the hiring managers –– or better yet, “accidentally” hit on one of the human resource ladies.

The reason is, finding out where the CEO of “whatever” does his dry-cleaning and then taking my laundry there on the same day so I could chat him up took the kind of effort that could have gotten me recruited to the CIA. For as great of an idea as that was, it took a heck of a lot of work, and the only introduction it got me was to his youngest sister –– who was also looking for a job.

Total bust? Maybe, maybe not.

The nice thing about networking events is that you get there and realize it is not a self-absorbed birthday party. It’s more of an evening of speed dating composed of people who have dropped the messed up pretenses and jointly decided to have fun and go with it.

When it comes to CSU networking events, the odds are even better since we already have something in common with everyone there.

As the evening progressed, it was clear that a lot of connections were made, the typical exchanging of business cards and handshakes were shared and new relationships initiated. Even I got into the mix, picking up conversations with a social entrepreneur and the COO of a Golden-based database-information engineering firm. Not a bad couple of people for a guy like me to know.

Phoenix Mourning-Star is a graduate student. His column appears Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 1:54 pm

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