By the way, the networking activities discussed here should supplement, not substitute for, traditional activities, such as sending out resumes and using the Internet in your internship search.
Recommendations from college career counselors as to when college students should begin networking range from freshman year to the middle or end of the junior year.
Certainly freshman year is not too early to get to know your professors, especially your adviser. Getting to know your cohort students, a process that comes naturally to the collegiate experience, will also lay the networking groundwork in your first year. A good way to meet as many other students as possible is to participate in as many organizations and activities as your academic schedule will permit you to handle.
Be a curious friend; finding out as much as possible about your classmates and their interests, along with their families and parents’ occupations, can provide valuable information that you may want to recall as you approach graduation. Be sure to reciprocate with information that will help others. Freshman year is also the time to consider whether to join a fraternity or sorority. If you are holding down a job, establish relationships with your boss and coworkers.
By sophomore year, you are probably beginning to narrow your career goals, which makes your second year an excellent time to embark on a series of informational interviews that will help bring your career into focus. (For more about what an informational interview is and how to conduct one, see: Quintessential Careers: Informational Interviewing Tutorial.) Continue to forge ties with professors, other students, and people you work with.
If your career goal is well-defined at this point, sophomore year is a good time to join student chapters of professional organizations (or obtain a student membership to a regular chapter).
Junior year is key. Start your most serious networking push now by doing the following: