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The Power of Networking

By: Nicole Willens, Class of 2018

One of the most common themes of any professional event is networking. As an undergraduate student, you are told to network with anyone and everyone. Career fairs can often act as speed networking sessions. In graduate school, the importance of networking is even greater. Professional development events are paramount and every class session has the potential for networking. I have always valued the power of networking as a way to learn and grow in your career. I believe that the relationships you build with others are the most beneficial aspect of any career experience. The Master of Science in Health Communication program at Northwestern has further strengthened this belief.

In the MSHC program, in addition to our two academic classes, we have a proseminar, where guest speakers come in to share their story. This quarter, our guest speakers included CEOs, directors and administrators from various organizations, ranging from hospitals to advocacy groups to government agencies. Each proseminar, I would learn something new. Sometimes it was simply learning about a different area in healthcare. Other weeks, the speaker shared personal stories about their career path. Yet, one of the most valuable aspects of the proseminar was being able to speak with our guests one-on-one afterwards, exchanging contact information, and potentially meeting for coffee to discuss their career further. These personalized conversations were where you could truly discover the other person’s passions and find relatable ground to build deeper connections. Through the proseminar, I was able to meet and network with a myriad of leaders in the healthcare field.

Another aspect of networking in graduate school is learning from your peers. One quarter into the MSHC program, and I am already grateful for my classmates. At the base level, everyone’s contributions in class add a unique perspective and allow for deeper understanding of course content. Outside of class, however, is where you really get to learn about your classmates. I’ve enjoyed learning about the diverse backgrounds of MSHC students, and their various aspirations for the future. While we all have the common ground of an interest in health communication, each student brings a different past experience and a unique goal for the future. Some of my classmates are doctors or pursuing medical school. Others are on the insurance side. There are also marketing professionals and advocacy leaders in our cohort. Through lunches, class social events, and student leadership opportunities, I have been able to meet, network with, and learn from my MSHC classmates.

The Master of Science in Health Communication at Northwestern has reiterated the power of networking and taught me to never pass up a chance to learn more about a classmate, coworker, or leader in your industry. Every outside event and classroom experience becomes important. You never know who will change your viewpoint and impact your career path moving forward.