Matt Wells of the Valparaiso University Career Center talks with one of the students who tool part in the school's speed networking event at Harre Union Friday April 4, 2013. The event allowed students and local business leaders. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 28, 2013 6:18PM
Sara Meeter, a junior at Valparaiso University, is already a veteran of the speed networking circuit.
On a recent Friday afternoon, the marketing major from Hebron met with around 13 professionals, including a human resources representative from a local bank and a Chicago television station’s promotions producer.
Meeter had all of five minutes with each person, not a lot of time to get the word out about what her goals are and what she has to offer.
But Meeter was used to the routine because she did it last year. This year, she was better prepared, and used the half hour she had before the networking started to come up with questions for the people she was meeting with.
“Last year, it was really hectic and really crazy jumping around,” she said, adding she likes hearing how people got to where they are in the business world. “It’s just good experience talking to people, particularly on a professional level.”
This was the third year for the speed networking program, held April 12 in the community room of the Christopher Center on campus and sponsored by VU’s career center.
The program is open to freshmen through seniors; in all 56 students signed up, as did 32 professionals from the community, including 17 VU alumni, said Holly Simpson, the career center’s assistant director.
Students spent the first half hour mingling and being introduced to informal networking, as well as basics like juggling a plate of food during introductions.
Students are computer-matched with professionals in their fields of study, and some students have found jobs through the event, Simpson said, as students traded resumes for business cards at the tables set up in the community room.
“The idea is to get as much insight and information as they can, and expand their professional network,” she said.
Micaela Johnson, a junior Spanish major, found the fast-paced event helped her prioritize what she needed to say. Johnson, of Eagan, Minn., was participating for the first time.
“I think networking is really key for anyone’s career,” she said.