LaNisha Ward received her Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. Her aspirations are to become a medical researcher to help find cures for diseases. She is currently receiving her Masters of Biology at Texas Southern University with plans to receive her Ph.D. in Cell Biology in Fall of 2016.
One of the most important things I have learned throughout my college experience is to network now. During the first couple of years of my undergrad I was very quiet, not very outgoing, and kept to myself academically and socially. I could not see at the time that this would have a major effect on my college experience and success. I am smart, talented, and I love challenges, however not using my networking skills made college a lot harder.
My advice for all college students is to use your networking skills early on in your college experience. Networking can be used in various ways to help you succeed in college. My first advice is to get to know professors that are in your department. The advantage of this is that professors will become familiarized with you, and when the time comes, may be willing to work with you as you advance. Networking with your professors may also be useful in the future because many of the professors who are teaching you will soon become your colleagues, depending on how far you want to go. As a Biology major I needed experience with research. Without networking with some of my professors I would not have been able to get some of the experience and opportunities I had received. Networking with professors will also help you when you are in need of recommendation letters for graduate and Ph.D. programs, internships, fellowships, and scholarships.
Get to know people in leadership positions at your educational establishment. These are the people that will help you find connections needed for internships, fellowships, independent research projects, jobs, etc. It is very important to do this so that your college experience will lead you to where you need to be in the future. The reality is that there are many people who are attending college to obtain their degree, but those who will prevail are the people who not only worked hard to receive good grades, but also worked hard to gain experience and put their names out there.
Finally, be outgoing and network with other students. I have always been the student who likes to go off in a corner and study to myself. I have come to realize that this does not always work in college. Some of the best grades I have received are classes where some of my classmates and I took it upon ourselves to form study groups. This is very helpful in college because the work load can be very strenuous at times. When you are studying within a group there are people who will be stronger than you in some areas. By working together you are helping each other to succeed by sharing your strengths with one another, exchanging notes, and constantly testing each other. Some of these students will also become your colleagues in the future and networking with them may be beneficial in your future career.
Treat networking as a must. You must network because you must succeed, and what easier way to succeed than to use your resources. So remember, network now not later.