The Importance of Professional Networks for Developing Young Educators
Getting college students to understand the value of professional networks is an art. Although most students are looking towards their future career during college, it sometimes hard for them to understand the importance of becoming involved outside of the classroom. This goes beyond being involved in extracurricular activities such as Greek life, honor societies, dance club, and intramural sports. These all have their place on the resume, but it's important to become familiar with professional networks in your field as early as your freshman year.
Most students don't realize that these networks cater to students as well as current professionals in the field. By getting involved early on, students can access invaluable opportunities to attend professional development workshops, online webinars, scholarships, job fairs, networking events, conferences and much more.
At St. John's, we try to constantly grow the scholarly and professional community within our School of Education by having our students take part in Kappa Delta Pi, The International Honor Society in Education. The organization, which includes educators ranging from the student teacher level to retired academic administrators, provides our students with networking events and professional development workshops, in person and online, throughout the year. The events are run by current teachers and potential employers - recruiters, human resources personnel, and principals.
These opportunities to interact with experienced educators mean that the job search process starts far before formal interviews, and highlights the importance of developing a professional demeanor. Networking and workshops craft our students' professionalism, so that they are able to convey a highly confident and competent persona in professional settings. (And yes, social media counts as a professional setting - more on that in my next blog!)
Finally, I want all young educators to understand that professional networks go beyond attending these workshops and networking events. If you engage fully in the opportunities they present, it can truly open up doors in your career. For instance, I would have had the chance to share my experiences with you if I did not attend the American Association for Employment in Education Conferences this past fall in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to participating in a meaningful dialogue on employment in education, I was asked to write this blog because I networked and engaged in the conference. Young educators can never underestimate the power of the professional network, because it provides a world of opportunities and resources right at your fingertips that you never thought of before.
Director of Student Engagement
The School of Education
St. John's University