One of the primary concerns I had about becoming an online student was the loss of interaction with my classmates. Most of my classes added in a component with discussions and other ways for us work together with our classmates, but this was purely academic. I definitely enjoyed hearing about my classmates’ thoughts on the weekly lessons, but I sometimes felt like I was missing that professional connection. This is why I was thrilled to be a part of the online networking event that Walden University offered on May 19th.
The timing of this event was perfect for the working professional—which seems to be a common theme among graduate students. It occurred in the evening on a Thursday night. For me, living in the Eastern time zone, this time was after working hours and traditional “dinner time”. I had plenty of time to get organized and prepared for the event after the typical working day.
Going into the event, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I knew that there were individual rooms based on your degree programs, but I wasn’t sure what the exact format would be. When logging onto the event, the user first sees the lists of rooms that are available. These were, again, based on majors and programs, but included some of the following: Education, Information Technology, Business, General Chat, and more.
Contrary to what this may sound like, these are not typical chat rooms. When selecting which chat you wish to be a part of, you will be placed into a line waiting on a conversation. I never had to wait longer than a few seconds. In fact, most of the time, the next conversation loaded immediately after finishing the first one. As soon as a “chatter” is available for you to speak with, a conversation screen is loaded on your computer and the clock starts.
In this chat, you are connected to one person. That person’s information is displayed on the side of the chat screen, usually with a photo, their connection to Walden University, major or program information, and a link to their LinkedIn page. The timer starts as soon as the conversation loads, and you have seven to ten minutes to connect with this person. During the sixty minute event, I was able to connect with six people—so it moves fairly quickly.
During the course of the event, I moved between a few of the rooms, meeting and interacting with students. While the rooms may have all been different, the conversations typically started out the same way: “Why are you here and where do you want to go?” I met authors, educators, non-profit professionals, and IT professionals from all over the world. It was truly a virtual networking experience.
The system notifies you when the chat timer is about to expire, but as previously mentioned, you have other ways of staying connected. In the future, I would recommend loading the person’s LinkedIn profile as soon as the chat begins so you don’t have to scramble to pull it up while the clock runs out. This is an excellent way to begin or continue to grow your LinkedIn connections. I would strongly encourage Walden University students to take advantage of these opportunities. These people are your classmates or alumni from your university and they lead fascinating lives all throughout the world. Meet them, connect with them, and stay in touch!
The Career Services Center invites you to participate in the next Walden Career Connections event:
Social Change Networking Hour, July 21, 2016, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. Register for the event here.
Would you like some ideas on how to prepare for online networking events? Read: Three Tips for Maximizing Our New Online Networking Tool, Walden Career Connections!
Written by Samantha Shore, Walden Career Services Center Intern