In journeys, we ask people for guidance. Our whole lives we have been guided by our parents, teachers, friends, and pastors, but many of us think that this guidance ceases after we step into the real world. Why is it when it comes to our career journeys we feel like we are not allowed to ask for help? The internet and social media provide the path to social capital—a wealth of information, resources, and network potential for Gen Z. But anxiety and fear can trump our access to these advantageous resources.

I used to be anxious about reaching out to people and building connections because I thought employers and professionals would think I was being inauthentic and taking advantage of them. But I quickly realized that was simply untrue — after overcoming my initial fear, connecting with people in industries I was interested in opened so many doors for me this past summer!

As this year’s Career Month is focused on Connections, I hope you are encouraged and equipped to build meaningful career connections!

Why Should I Connect?

Connections do not have to solely be viewed as transactional. They are all about building relationships with people that you are genuinely curious about. Connecting with the right people can help you discover opportunities and create a roadmap for your career.

For example, I was always interested in the beauty industry but had absolutely no idea how to approach that career path. So I mustered up the courage to reach out to someone on Linkedin working at a beauty company. After getting to know them and sharing some valuable conversations, I landed an internship there and am starting to see a pathway for my career as a marketer in the beauty industry! My basic interest in their role and the industry allowed me to gain so much more than I expected.

But Connections are Intimidating.

People are often intimidated to ask for guidance in their career journeys because they assume people are reluctant to help. Fear is normal! The first time you do anything will often come with some fear and anxiety, but jumping over that hurdle makes the rest of the ride so much easier.

You would be surprised at how willing people are to help you through your journey. To put it into perspective, would you not happily give directions to someone if asked for them? People like sharing about their experiences and giving advice. According to Handshake, 92% of professionals would offer to help a younger person they don’t know from their college with career advice. These are people who are further along in their career journeys and have a wealth of knowledge and experience — they have been in your shoes before and have likely received guidance from someone else too. Your career journey is never-ending, and people are constantly building connections and asking for help years into their careers.

OK, Where Do I Start?

The next two weeks of Career Month will dive deep into two aspects of connections: Mentorship and Networking.

Mentorship — A relationship in which an experienced mentor guides a less experienced mentee by building trust and modeling positive behaviors.

Networking — The exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting.

The coming weeks will feature an extensive guide on what mentorship and networking are, how to approach them, testimonials from students, staff, and employers, and several opportunities for you to overcome your fears of making professional connections! Our career journeys are just starting, and there are so many people willing to help. Do not be afraid to reach out for help; you never know what a simple conversation might lead to!

Katherine is a Business Administration Major and Copywriting Intern for the Career Center.