SPECIAL NOTE: This article was written by Samson Mael and Jessica Wadsworth, second year students in Cal State East Bay's MS-Health Care Administration Program.
Joining a professional group and networking is the link to professional and personal development. Networking is especially important to finding success in the healthcare industry, as most healthcare jobs are filled through known or referred contacts in the industry. Professional networking can help in the search of new opportunities and in exploring different careers within healthcare, which is why students and early careerists should take advantage of networking. When joining professional groups and attending networking events new relationships are built. Sometimes it only takes meeting the right person at the right time to unlock a new opportunity.
Both of us are members of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the California Association of Healthcare Leaders (CAHL), and both are the Co-Chairs of the Educational Committee for the Golden State Chapter of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE). We are near the end of our graduate studies, earning a Master of Science in Health Care Administration at California State University East Bay. Currently Jessica is working as an intern at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and will start a new position as a human resources trainee for the Veteran Affairs Hospital this fall. Samson is interning at Tri-City Health Center as an Operation Intern.
We never stepped foot in a networking event until we began graduate school in September of 2012. We both were nervous and had no clue how to approach attendees. We walked in feeling a bit overwhelmed and walked out feeling motivated and encouraged. This transition to comfort occurred because of the fact that those who worked in the field were open to talking to students. On top of answering any questions we had, we were asked questions as well, making the conversations more personable and less intimidating. What we have learned from attending networking events is to make it a learning experience and not solely a job-seeking experience. After attending our first networking event we both realized how powerful the interactions were for learning about healthcare careers outside of our own limited knowledge and experience. These events bring together professionals from different career backgrounds and allow students and early careerists like ourselves to gain insight on the variety of healthcare career paths that we wouldn’t otherwise be introduced to.
Below are a few summary recommendations that we offer to our fellow student peers and anyone new to networking.
Reasons to network:
When networking, don’t forget to:
We encourage students to join organizations and participate in events offered outside of their school programs. In April we participated in the 2013 CAHL College Bowl Competition and won second place. The bowl allowed us to test our healthcare administration knowledge, to work as a team, and network with executives from different healthcare organizations. In October we will represent California State University East Bay in Miami for the 2013 NAHSE Case Competition. This will allow us to further our networking to a national scene and not just our local events and interactions.
The best career advice we received during our networking efforts included the reminder that there are no limitations as to what one can achieve in the healthcare industry, to keep an open mind, and to create a solid foundation of contacts. We both are very pleased with how our educational career has turned out so far. Our hard work has already started to pay off and has well prepared us for a future of healthcare leadership and continued networking.