BY AISLING DOHENY | The Statesman
A professional setting, complimentary appetizers and a room full of eager young adults ready to take the initiative to kick-start their careers complete the atmosphere at the annual Networking Night at the Greysolon Plaza in downtown Duluth.
The event, held by the Alumni Association on Nov. 19, targets juniors and seniors and provides an opportunity for students to connect with local and regional professionals.
“Networking is building a relationship,” Mollie Nelson, communications associate for UMD Alumni Relations, said. “That relationship starts with a conversation, and coaches at this event will help students initiate that connection.”
Networking Night is open to the entire community but is weighted towards Duluth professionals. UMD alumni are encouraged to get involved as a way of giving back to Duluth with time and talent.
Bigger companies involved include St. Louis County, St. Luke’s, LHB, Inc., Minnesota Power and Cirrus Aircraft. Professions range from principals to doctors to auditors to artists.
Fifteen volunteers of students, staff and alumni have been hard at work planning this event since September. According to Nelson, Networking Night revolves around the Association’s main goal.
“Our mission is to have every student connect with at least one professional.”
Volunteers and staff involved with coordinating the event put together a contact sheet with names of professionals that will be provided both via email and at the door on the night of the program.
“Providing this list beforehand gives the students time to prepare,” Nelson said.
Senior Rachel Moritko attended Networking Night last year. She said this list proved beneficial.
“I was able to focus on the companies and people I wanted, like people in the Human Resources field,” Moritko said.
New this year will be three guest speakers who will speak on the power of networking, networking tips and community engagement.
“The night isn’t intended to be program heavy but we want to make sure students are given these inspirational nuggets on how to get started,” Nelson said.
Also this year Networking Night will have live music, coaches from Career and Internship Services and a photographer to take professional head shots.
“This year we have record numbers,” Nelson said. “We have a total of 300 guests.”
According to Nelson, students should treat this experience not as a job interview but as a chance to take advantage of the experienced sources in the Duluth area.
“To some, this is their first introduction to a professional experience beyond the classroom,” she said. “We don’t want to scare people into networking, we want to teach them how to manage it.”
Over half of the professional attendees are UMD alumni who will share their experiences.
“It’ll be fun to listen to them tell their stories of how they landed their first job,” Nelson said.
The main initiative of the program is for young adults to connect with locals to prepare for future interviews, internships and job opportunities.
“It was definitely an educational experience for me,” Moritko said. “I met a lot of people who were really helpful and gave me a lot of advice for my future field of work.”
Registration is closed Monday, Nov. 16. Networking Night will take place from 5:30 p.m until 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.