It’s easy to think of ourselves just as students. But we are going through this for a reason, aren’t we? We are trying to advance our careers and to weasel our way into the professional world. So why not start now? Why not join organizations in the Charleston area to help get acquainted with other young professionals? This could be a great opportunity to meet new people and to see what networking opportunities are available and where they may lead us.
You don’t even have to seek out or join this first one, you are already a member! The GSA (Graduate Student Association) serves and represents all students enrolled in The Graduate School of the College of Charleston. It seeks to create opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, to improve the quality of graduate programs, research opportunities, and student services, and to provide a forum for discussing issues important to graduate students. The GSA typically meets one Friday every month, and all graduate students are encouraged to attend. It is a great way to meet people in other programs, as we all tend to be isolated in our own programs. The GSA also plans a few events each semester to bring students together. It hosts an annual oyster roast and poster session for students to share their research, and last fall it organized a bar crawl throughout downtown called King Street Krawl. Keep an eye out for GSA events coming up in the fall!
The next is the Charleston Young Professionals (CYP), which is part of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. It seeks to help Charleston’s next generation of talent get connected and make an impact on the Charleston region. CPY hosts professional development activities, social networking opportunities and advocacy efforts. It was created for young professionals, by young professionals and has members from many different industries. In short, CYP is a resource for building relationships and for cultivating leaders to impact the Charleston area. You can become a member of CYP for a full year for $50. This will allow you to connect with leaders in the community, will give you a discount on admission to monthly YP Wednesdays, will give you a discount on admission to quarterly professional development events, will allow you to learn about volunteer opportunities in the community, and will allow you to access to community leaders, leadership training, and new and existing businesses.
If you are working for a business or organization, there are also group networking opportunities for the business as a whole. The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce has worked to be the voice of the business community. The Charleston Chamber has been extremely active in the Charleston region, and it seeks to strengthen our region as the world’s best location to live, learn, work and play. Membership allows businesses access to over 120 Chamber programs and events per year and unique business-to-business marketing, advertising and sponsorship opportunities offered through Chamber publications and events, to name just a few benefits.
Another organization for businesses is the American Marketing Association (AMA), which is a professional association for individuals and organizations who are leading the practice, teaching, and development of marketing worldwide. The AMA serves to foster knowledge and sharing, to provide resources, education, career and profession development opportunities, and to promote and support marketing practice. The AMA helps marketers to expand their marketing expertise, elevate their careers, and to achieve better results.
Even if you do not join one of these organizations, it’s beneficial to know that they exist, as networking often leads to job opportunities. Joining organizations like these is also a great way to meet new people and to experience aspects of Charleston you may not be familiar with. If you have any other suggestions for networking, please feel free to comment and suggest!