How to build a network: groups to help you get a foot in the door

Networking in high school, college and university

Six places to look for advice on planning your next step

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(Illustration by Leeandra Cianci)
(Illustration by Leeandra Cianci)

You can’t plan for your future without knowing where you’re headed. Here’s who to ask for information about post-secondary programs and the careers they lead to.

1. Your parents’ network
If we’re all six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, surely we’re just two degrees from someone who went to school at McGill. Ask your parents or other family members to help you find people to interview about their educational experiences.

MORE: The Maclean’s Guide to Getting In to University or College

2. Your guidance counsellor
Most guidance departments have statistics about where earlier students ended up. Ask them to connect you with students attending your top choices.

3. Your community
Even if you don’t have a personal connection to the people you’d like to meet, you can approach professionals in your chosen field to ask them for advice.

4. Official websites
Go to the source for detailed information on where programs will take you. Waterloo Engineering, for example, lists specific jobs now held by recent graduates. One former student of mechatronics engineering, for instance, is now a product design engineer at Apple.

5. Current students
Robert Astroff of Astroff Consultants encourages applicants to visit campuses during the school year to explore whether they’re a fit—and, if so, to get a head start on planning. “Go to classes and different activities and speak to executives of clubs,” he suggests.

6. Internet forums
When researching Dalhousie University’s bachelor of commerce, second-year student Max Georgopoulos went deep: he hunted down online forums where students discussed the program, and looked up individual professors’ ratings for courses he wanted to take. “I did so much research,” he says. “The more I researched [my program], the more I liked it.”

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