The ability to talk with confidence to someone else when networking or at job interviews is an essential skill that takes practice, says Serena Tiaiti, Career Engagement Manager for Student Employability.
Last week Serena’s team organised a speed networking event with alumni and students to boost the confidence of students to engage with others, especially in a professional capacity. Students had the opportunity of giving their elevator pitch and having a conversation with up to 11 alumni in turn.
Serena says the event was designed to create a fun and friendly environment where students could practice networking and hold a conversation and get to know alumni.
“The students met with our alumni, not with the purpose of getting a job, but to perfect their elevator pitch. The alumni gave feedback after each interaction. By the time students got to their fourth or fifth interaction, they were feeling more confident and had a more polished elevator pitch,” explains Serena.
Student Sebastian Gil Parga found the event useful and enjoyable.
“I was told by the first interviewer that I was speaking too fast and should organise my ideas better in my introduction. I kept trying and by the last one, I was doing really well,” says Sebastian.
Fellow student Etienne Tapueluelu says he was encouraged to asked more questions of the interviewer to find out more about the work they do.
“I also realised I needed to be a bit more practical and realistic with my answers,” he says.
ANZ bank consultant Rishika Aneja (far right) says she was keen to participate as an alumni because she enjoyed staying connected with AUT. She urged each student to be themselves and not be afraid to ask questions.
“I also encouraged them to make sure they explain all their work experience even if it’s not relevant to their studies or role because they’ll be learning different types of skills that will be applicable to their career in some way.”
It was the third time that alumni Raj Trishul, TradeWindow Ltd product owner (left), has participated in the speed networking event. He keeps offering his time because he sees how helpful it is for students.
“When I started networking I was given the same feedback I gave to a lot of the students about fidgeting and not keeping eye contact. Some students also got a bit lost when giving their pitch, so that needed more practice. I really enjoyed hearing their pitches and talking to them.”
ONZL Limited Digital Media strategist Hemangi Sharma also encouraged students to ask questions to get to know the other person.
“You can get a lot out of a five minute conversation if you invest time into finding out about the other person, as well as talking about yourself.”
Two years ago, she was on the other side of the table at the same event, learning how to network and getting feedback from graduates.
“I still remember every single piece of feedback to this day, so when asked to come along as an alumni, I was more than happy to participate.”
Before and after the formal speed networking, the students and alumni mingled together over pizza, continuing to share their stories.
The AUT employability and careers services runs regular workshops on how to network as well as the two speed networking events a year. Workshops can also be tailored specifically for faculties. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org