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Bishop Elevate hosts event to help students network effectively

Networking is important for any college student, but how do you do it? Many students on campus seem to seek answers to this question, but those answers are right around the corner here at OWU. 

On Friday, January 26, a networking event was held for first-generation college students in the Hamilton Williams Campus Center to address the uncertainty about networking, and it proved to be quite beneficial. 

At OWU, first-generation college students are identified as students “for whom no parent(s)/legal guardian(s) have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree”. 

Thea Smekens, head of the first-generation-student department, Bishop Elevate, explains that traditional networking events tend to come with much anxiety and uncertainty. 

“We wanted to create a more accessible and supportive environment for learning and discussion in a super chill setting,” she said. 

Multiple tables were held with informative resources about getting connected on campus, and five staff members were available to talk to about networking opportunities. 

“It's helpful to learn about networking and discuss the ‘how-to’ before you have to actively do it in a professional setting,” Smekens added.

Susan Zimmerman, who works in the foundation relations office, noted that networking is about making connections and being more “interested in the other person rather than worrying about being interesting.”

“You should bring a couple of questions and a bit of an elevator speech of who you are and give yourself grace to make some mistakes,” Zimmerman said.

This event helped students understand the importance of connecting with people and how someone can promote themselves, but also that networking doesn’t have to be intimidating.

Freshman Jaila Conway-Patterson attended this event and agrees that networking has a pattern. “Getting connected can put you into doors that you didn’t know were there. Someone recommended me because they knew me from a group or person, it’s kind of like a web of sorts.”

She appreciates the fact that this event was available to students, and she learned that networking “doesn’t have to be about business suits and a sterile environment.” 

Talking with staff members and people you trust can be a great way to get started with networking. The OWU Alumni Partners Program is always eager to help students with their career and professional goals. You can learn more about this program and its benefits at

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