What is networking…. Is it connecting with people? Or interacting with set of companies? Or Exchanging information and developing contacts?
I believe the answer is all of the above.
As an international student from India, I really wanted to create and develop a strong identity at Penn State. It is hard to do in a big school, but it is very much possible. You have to think how you want to make a mark here and in what way you want to do it. There are many resources that can help you increase your network here.
The starting point should be getting involved in any organization or club. It can be inside or outside Smeal. Being active and taking up impactful leadership roles in that particular org/club is very important. This will help you develop team building skills and many other interpersonal skills which companies look for.
Take advantage of Penn State and specifically Smeal College of Business in every way. Going to different company info sessions, Smeal sponsored events like Lunch & Learns, Donuts & Dilemmas, career fairs, Smeal organizations etc. These resources can be very beneficial. Going to these events, fairs, workshops & info sessions will make you distinct compared to others because of you are showing interest in the company and also the people. The employers value time and also the effort you are putting in by just showing up and interacting. Networking will automatically happen once you start going and putting your name out there in the market.
Another great resource is the faculty here at Smeal. The Smeal faculty are so diverse and resourceful so this is a great way to increase your network. Having a strong relationship with the professors can go a long way. They know the recruiters more than anyone. They have the connections already built. You just have to show interest and meet-greet to increase your network. Faculty interact with the companies often so they can also help you to build a network with the companies you like.
I have mentioned many ways that you can increase your network. These are not the only ways. There is also a great source called LinkedIn. This is a great professional online network where you can connect with Alumni and also the companies who recruit outside Smeal. Having a LinkedIn presence can be very helpful.
I think finding what you are interested in and networking accordingly will be the best way you grow your network. Being an all rounded student and showing keen interest will help you stand out and be more easily connectable to companies or anyone.