STEM Networking Night
Tuesday, April 18
James West Alumni Center
Stem Networking Night at UCLA is an exciting opportunity for UCLA students to learn about various STEM fields and meet the people who have developed careers in STEM. The event is free for UCLA students (RSVP required)! Run by the Student Alumni Association, this event creates the perfect platform for aspiring doctors, data analysts, computer scientists, researchers, and more to network, build relationships and gain valuable insight in how to further pursue a career in STEM.
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Make the Most of STEM
How to network with people you don't know
Networking is a great way to open up new opportunities for yourself, but it is intimidating to talk to people who you don’t know. Here are some tips to help you network with people at STEM Networking Night. First of all, be prepared: before attending SNN, print out a couple of copies of your resume, and do background research on the fields in which you are interested. Prepare a little elevator pitch about your background, what you are doing at UCLA, and where you hope to be in the future. Read our next blog post about how to come up with a good elevator pitch and confidently showcase your skills while networking. Come up with a list of questions that you might want to ask people; we’ve included some below for you.
This list of questions has been compiled from a handful of students at UCLA who shared some of the questions they like to ask while networking. Feel free to write these down and take them with you to the event! These great conversation starters allow you to ask more follow-up questions based on their response.
Ask them questions like:
- What are the main responsibilities in your role?
- What does a typical day (or week) look like for you?
- What do you like most about your work?
- What do you like least about your work?
- What kind of problems do you deal with?
- What kind of decisions do you make in your role?
- How does your position fit within the organization/industry/career field?
- How does your work impact the larger business?
- How does our job affect your general lifestyle?
- What current issues and trends are happening in the field/which should I be aware of?
- What kind of accomplishments or qualities are valued and rewarded in this field/position?
- What related fields do you think I should consider looking into?
- How did you become interested in this field? How did you begin your career? Can you tell me about your background?
- How do most people get into this field? What are common entry-level jobs (or programs)?
- What steps would you recommend I take to prepare to enter into this field?
- Do you think my resume would be competent as an aspiring/prospective applicant in this industry?
- How relevant to your work is your undergraduate major?
- What are some things I can do during my time at UCLA to set myself up for future success? What are some things you did?
- What kind of education, training, or background does your job require?
- What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential to success in your job/this field/this industry?
These are just a starting point, just make sure to come up with your own questions that might pop up during your conversation and try to build a conversation that builds on top of itself rather than asking a bunch of disjointed questions. (Otherwise, it might come off like an interview).
When you’re at the event, look at the list of alumni attending, and choose the people who look most interesting to you. Unfortunately, there may not be enough time to talk to everyone. Remember that networking doesn’t have to be between you and alumni--you can also make friends with other students at the event. Everyone is in the same boat, and it doesn’t hurt to make a couple of new connections and friends along the way.
How to introduce yourself at a networking event
Remember that SNN is all about immersing yourself and meeting other Bruins here at UCLA. This isn’t an interview, and this event is a low-pressure way to expand your network and learn more about what people do in STEM. When introducing yourself at a networking event, it is important to be confident, friendly, and engaging. If you do not feel this way, it’s okay to fake it. Before you attend SNN, it’s an excellent idea to develop an elevator pitch so you can tell others about yourself professionally. An elevator pitch is a short, concise summary of who you are and what you bring to the table. It mostly consists of four parts.
First, introduce yourself. Start by mentioning your name, what you are studying, and what year you are. Provide a brief overview of your professional experience, skills, and achievements, but also your interests and hobbies. Secondly, explain why you are unique. Focus on the unique strengths and qualities that you possess that make you, YOU. Lastly, show enthusiasm for what you do and what you hope to do in the future. Then wrap up your elevator pitch. Now it’s a good time to ask them about themselves (if they have not already) or dive into some questions. One great way to jump into this is by drawing similarities that you both have. You are both Bruins, for one! Drawing connections can make the conversation feel more comfortable for you and others around you.
Here is an example of how a student can introduce themselves to someone else at SNN. Feel free to adapt this example to fit your background.
Hello, my name is Josie Bruin, and I am a third-year student studying Biology. In high school, I was always interested in cultivating agriculture, and I took this to the next level. I started researching genetic modifications for a local farm this past summer. During my job, I conducted and analyzed field research that helped the farm decide on which seeds, pesticides, soil types, and watering cycles would be optimal for the environment in which the farm is situated to maximize harvest come fall. I’ve been able to meet a lot of fantastic researchers and gain knowledge about pursuing a career in research and lab work. While I’m not working, I love outdoor activities, including rock climbing, hiking, and crocheting. This summer, I am trying to expand my skill set through more research or fieldwork! And in 5 years from now, I hope to be a prominent field researcher for farms all over the country.
How to follow up after SNN
One crucial thing about networking is ensuring you stay in touch and continue supporting each other in your goals. Since the alumni volunteered their time to meet you at SNN, it would be a good idea to send a follow-up email shortly after thanking them for their time. If you discuss anything specific, like a job, resume review, or any personal story they shared, make sure to mention that so they don’t forget. Send them a LinkedIn connection request and save their email to your contacts so you have it on file in case you need to reach out to them in the future.
Once you start to build your network, it can be challenging to manage multiple connections at once. We recommend creating a tracker document to mark when you last reached out to someone and log a future time you intend to reach out to them. Networking tools like LinkedIn are also helpful for managing many connections. When you find a tool that works for you, write down who you spoke with, and what you talked about.
Send a personalized follow-up email to the people you met. Make sure to mention something specific you talked about to personalize the email and show that you were paying attention. Remember to thank them for their time and provide value where you can. Discuss current events with them, share emerging trends, and more. Remember that networking is not about connecting business cards; it’s about building relationships.
<Email Template post-SNN>
I hope all is well! It was so great to connect with you at STEM Networking Night, and I loved hearing about your <something specific about their background>. As I finish my years at UCLA, I would love to stay in touch. <Any follow-ups previously discussed or ask a question>. Thanks so much for your time.
UCLA ONE- Your Bruin Networking Community!
UCLA Alumni Career Closet: If you're prepping for an interview or getting ready for a networking session, stop by the UCLA Alumni Career Closet to pick out a new outfit. It'll be housed in the UCLA James West Alumni Center and you can access it Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by stopping by the front desk.
For updates: Student Alumni Association - Instagram