An online information systems degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham can help open a variety of doors for graduates. The cutting-edge education gives students a strong understanding of the technical knowledge required for many positions related to information systems and technology, as well as a broad understanding of how modern businesses and the economy as a whole function. Graduates know they can lean on their education to help them perform in the roles they secure after receiving their degrees.
However, education isn’t the only benefit that comes along with earning a degree at UAB. Students also have the opportunity to network with their peers and professors, creating long-term relationships that offer valuable personal and professional support. As graduates spread throughout the industry, they can keep each other informed about news in the information systems industry, while helping one another find new opportunities for growth and advancement. The power of networking is valuable, whether students attend classes on campus in Birmingham or complete their coursework online. Use this advice to make the most of networking in your Bachelor of Science in Information Systems online degree program.
Networking 101 for BSIS students and graduates
On some levels, networking is a simple process. You develop contacts during your educational career with fellow students and professors, then remain in touch as the years go on. You offer news and interesting information about everything from executives changing roles to potential job openings, and your contacts reply in kind. At times, you simply talk about developments in the technology or commiserate about past shared experiences, like your coursework at UAB. This sort of mutually beneficial arrangement helps everyone involved stay connected to the pulse of the industry and find opportunities that may have otherwise been left uncovered.
Networking is also a complicated process that requires a significant amount of time and effort on the part of everyone involved. Staying in touch can be difficult, as can remembering who is on which career path and what information is relevant or not particularly useful to them. You need to invest time and energy into your networking efforts to make sure they’re focused and fruitful. How can you make that happen?
Take notes and keep track of your contacts
Many of the people you start networking with now are in a very similar position: They are either students in the Bachelor of Science in Information Systems online program or professors teaching those students. However, that will eventually change as graduates move on to roles within the industry. Even some professors may move on from the university to take positions at a variety of businesses, or may secure a new post at a company, professional association or advisory board while maintaining their teaching responsibilities.
It’s important to keep track of where your networking contacts go and what they do in the months and years after graduation. It helps you provide them with valuable, relevant information and allows you to reach out with more targeted questions and requests. Knowing what your contacts are up to also makes it clear that you care about them as more than a source of information or referrals. With LinkedIn, Facebook and many other online resources, it’s easy to keep up with your contacts. Consider maintaining a physical or digital notebook that includes names, contact information, career history and similarly relevant notes. Following this approach helps you be seen as interested and considerate — vital qualities for maintaining these long-term relationships.
Use the UAB resources available to you, including online networking
UAB offers all students access to the Career & Professional Development department, where dedicated staff help students do everything from build resumes to identify potential employers and connect with alumni. If you have an interest related to a very specific career path or a certain company, the Career & Professional Development staff can help you reach out to people in a position to help, including through online networking. That’s especially useful for students who may not yet have a wide enough network to make such connections on their own. Although many of the benefits of networking come from building relationships individually and creating long-term bonds, the Career & Professional Development staff can help you make some important and diverse initial connections.
Start early and build slowly
Networking is an ongoing project where certain relationships may not bear fruit for some time. In certain situations, connections with contacts may feel partially or wholly one-sided. It’s important to remember that when such a contact moves into a new position or receives a promotion, that perception can quickly change. Don’t expect networking to provide immediate results, and view the process as one that can take years to provide a return for both of the involved parties. As long as there’s room to discuss industry happenings and make further connections through a given contact, the relationship is valuable. Don’t discount it or let it fall off, as one change can suddenly and dramatically increase the value of the bond.
Give as good as you get
Networking is a two-way street. That means both people involved in the relationship need to help the other when the time comes. When contacts know they can rely on each other for guidance and assistance, they’re more likely to stay in touch and maintain a strong, positive connection. Everyone has to do their part to make these relationships as beneficial as possible. Although students may not have much to contribute in terms of professional connections right now, they can serve as sounding boards and provide advice on topics with which they have past experience. A student can, for example, relate information about new practices or technology recently learned in a course to a contact who is about to start using such workflows or tools.
Building a BS IS education with UAB
UAB offers students a chance to learn online at their own pace and receive a high-quality education that’s functionally identical to the on-campus experience. Similarly, networking opportunities and resources are just as abundant for students in the online program as they are for students on campus in Birmingham. To learn more about earning your online information systems degree from UAB and the networking opportunities that come along with it, get in touch with an advisor today.