Don’t be afraid to talk to people, networking in college vital to personal growth

May 09, 2017

Daryn Vlad

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     I was standing outside of Centennial Hall waiting for the shuttle in the rain when a student I’ve never met turned around and offered to share her umbrella with me.

     I did not expect an act of kindness like this to happen, especially from a stranger.

     As we stood talking, I wondered why it’s so foreign for our society to have interactions like this, to talk to people, to compliment others and to offer help to strangers.

     The incident made me wonder how my social group would grow if I reached out to strangers like this on a regular basis.

     The fear and discomfort of approaching someone new and talking to them is something we don’t face very often anymore, because new communication methods like the internet allow us to breeze through conversations without the fear stuttering or sounding awkward.

     If you struggle with social anxiety, then you know that the pressure to have a smooth conversation may prevent you from interacting with a stranger in the first place.

     So this semester, I challenged myself to talk to people.

     On a campus that holds over 11,000 people, you’re bound to talk to someone.

     After several conversations, I realized that interacting with people makes me feel energized and whole. I have grown as a person and learned something new about myself with each conversation. Do not be afraid to branch out, ask people questions and engage in conversation with someone you don’t know.

     People are just people; we shouldn’t be afraid to speak to one another.

     One of the top five tips for finding a job in college is to network, according to a 2015 article from USA Today.

     Not only is it possible to score career and internship opportunities through networking, but you might meet lifelong friends or partners as well.

     This is especially important in college, when we are all still figuring out how to navigate life. Your peers can help you with that.

     Whether you talk to a professor, someone in a club, a stranger in the library or you meet someone at the Rec Center, you never know who you are going to stumble upon or how they will have an impact on your life.

     Everyone has a story to tell, advice to give and their own perspective based on their life experience. Everyone has something to offer, and most of the time, they are happy to share.

     Talking to people made me realize how naive I really am. Each person has experiences to share that others will never experience.

     One of my coworkers recently disclosed with me that he has struggled with a drug addiction since the age of 14, and that it shaped the person he is today.

     This is something I have never experienced, but hearing his story left an impact on my life and taught me a lesson on making assumptions about people.

     It’s also important to ask questions. No question is a stupid, so don’t let uncertainty keep you from reaching your potential.

     Go to career fairs and speak with people in the field that interests you. Talk to people from the department you are studying in.

     Many opportunities are available; you just have to network and put yourself out there to find them.

     We are all here to study and earn a diploma, but college is also here to help us grow and develop as people, which is nearly impossible to do if all your interactions take place through Twitter or Facebook.

     So leave your dorm and challenge yourself to talk to the people around you without your phone in the way.

     You will be amazed how great it makes you feel.