Have you ever said, “I hate networking,” because it feels like a chore? I totally get it. While I am an extrovert, networking can feel like work, and who wants to ask someone to help you find a job? Everyone’s busy, right?

It’s all about mindset. Don’t think of networking as something that you do only when in a career search, think of it as something you do all the time, and it will become easier. I remember taking a class on Grounds with Darden career coach and lecturer Connie Dunlop, and she asked our class to rethink networking. Use this time to ask others what they like and dislike about their current position and company, how they navigated a career shift or tips for balancing a career and family. Networking isn’t about asking for help; it’s about asking for advice. Most importantly, listen to what they are saying. If there is one key takeaway from my personal search, it’s that listening during networking is even more important than talking (Side note: Taking handwritten notes during networking allows me to listen better!).

I also highly recommend for Darden School alumni to meet with Alumni Career Services (ACS) to align your needs and wants. I met with ACS several times during the job search process and developed a list of target companies, worked on ensuring I was ready for interviews and practiced sharing my story. They are a great resource for Darden alumni. Through one of their employer suggestions, I landed my current position. What I appreciated most was reaching out to people of all ages, career paths and MBA format types (i.e., full-time MBA, Executive MBA, Global Executive MBA).

This is what I learned:

  1. Soul search for what’s important.

Take the time to really think about what is important for your next career move. Is it title? Workforce culture? Money? Commute? Work-life balance? Career advancement?

While these are all valid things to consider, what is most important at this stage in your career and this stage of your life? I took the time and a piece of paper (yes, a real piece of paper and a pencil) to think about what I wanted and needed from my next position. As a duel working household with young kids, I needed to include my spouse in these conversations to ensure we were on the same page when it comes to my ability to share family responsibilities and not go crazy!

  1. Listen to your gut.

My gut hasn’t failed me yet. My mind has, but my gut hasn’t. If something feels a bit off in an interview, ask yourself why? Try to open your mind and listen to what your gut is telling you. Our minds pick up on body language and verbal cues that we may not be able to put into context until putting a little thought to it. It will greatly behoove you to figure it out now through a little thought, instead of realizing (after the fact) what your gut was trying to tell you.

Try to make the best decision possible with the information you have, and don’t beat yourself up if you have a career misstep. Learn from each step in your path and be better for it!

  1. Take your time.

Take a deep breath, settle in and be patient. If you have the ability, take the time to wait for the right position. Try to resist taking any offer, wait for the right offer. I am glad that I waited through a few offers to land my current position; it was worth the wait!

I have experience in strategy, sales and operations in both the federal and commercials markets. Want to network? I am only one click away! babsfernandez13@gmail.com