When I first started on my SULA adventure, I was hit with one word over and over again: networking. Everyone I met, from professors, to past students, to working professionals had one thing to say: its all about who you know. At first, this stressed me out. I was never the most talkative person and have a hard time selling myself, so I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to network. The first couple events, it was hard. I was nervous talking to people, and beat myself up over it when I began to think that I wasn’t ‘networking’ well enough. But as time went on, and I had more time to practice and adjust, I realized that it didn’t have to be scary. Networking is really all about making a connection with someone, so you can start a relationship with them. It doesn’t always have to be about “I’m looking for a job, can you hire me?”. It can be about sharing stories with someone, and getting to know them well enough that you would feel comfortable reaching out to them in the future. Selling yourself is still important, but it doesn’t have to be scary and awkward. It can come, and should come, from an honest place. I started to realize that I was networking with people every day, but it didn’t feel like networking, it just felt like I was meeting people and getting to know them. Our capstone class really helped me with this, as every week we are able to meet with different people at different companies. I network with the people at my internship everyday, and know that I have established a relationship and I feel comfortable asking them for help, whether that’s now or in the future. I even network with my peers! Networking should be professional, but it doesn’t have to be scary. A follow up email (or better yet, handwritten thank you note) will make you stand apart from other people they may have met. One of the most important things I’ve learned from the people I’ve networked with is to not reconnect with people just when you need a job, but every six months regardless of what your position is, just to keep the relationship alive. After this semester, the word “networking” no longer scares me, and I feel more confident in my ability to do it.