College is a time to get out there, meet new people, form relationships and experience new things. You always hear “get involved,” but what does that truly mean and how do you do it? This idea is also known as networking and at NKU, helping students network is the main goal of the University Connect and Persist Office.
UCAP is not a program, but a department promoting networking and helping students create successful networks on campus.
“We’re very invested in promoting proactive connections,” said Peg Adams, UCAP director.
UCAP does more than just bring students to their office and teach them how to build a network; they look for opportunities to work closely with various campus programs to teach them how to assist students in building successful connections and networks.
Most students network without even being aware of it; simply befriending people you know in class connects you, through degrees of separation, to people who could be potentially helpful. UCAP wants to promote the idea of connecting with more faculty, staff and fellow students who can assist you.
“We’re always backing other programs to make them shine more efficiently,” said Ashley McDaniels, who works in the UCAP office.
UCAP works with campus organizations to get students more involved and out of a daily routine of going to class and spending the rest of their time holed up in their dorms.
“A lot of students think ‘I don’t need to know people, I already have friends,’” said Tori House, who works in the UCAP office.
However this isn’t the case; students need to build strong networks and connections now, before they run into problems. Adams said many students have problems but don’t know who to go to for help. UCAP’s goal is to make sure students have a network built that they can rely on for assistance before they incur any problems.
Building connections now can help after college. Building a network now gives you the ability to get recommendations from a variety of faculty and staff; you can even be a connection to other students yourself. It’s also extremely beneficial to commuters or students that feel disconnected, simply knowing more people around campus gives you a sense of connection and community.
“You feel like you’re a part of the experience,” McDaniels said.
UCAP also sets up booths at career fairs, holds a presentation at freshman orientation, builds curriculum for UNV 101 courses and holds workshops and mixers on networking. They intend to make UCAP accessible to all students in creative ways.
“We make it user friendly,” said Caitlin Drouillard, graduate assistant.
One way they’re working to make it user friendly is through their various social media sites, including Youtube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
Their social media connections recently reached to an RA, who used their clothing ideas on professional outfits from the Pinterest page to decorate hallway boards. This act was an example of how important networking is and how it can reach individuals.
Networking isn’t just about students, UCAP hopes to connect faculty and staff as well. Often, two professors may be working with a student and not be aware of one another. To solve this problem UCAP is in the early stages of developing a technology called MAP-Works, which will make communication between faculty, staff and students more effective. The technology will be extremely beneficial to help students further their networks.
Drouillard, House and McDaniels have all had excellent experiences with UCAP, making each of them think on an individual and personalized level to create their own path of networks.
The “Keep Calm” Campaign is one of their initiatives. It consists of three ideas: activate your network, create your network and expand your network. Posters and bookmarks have been placed around campus before, and will return again this month. Each one will feature various tips on developing and maintaining successful networks; you can even take these tips with you by tearing the informational strips off the posters.
All in all, networking is about being open and putting yourself out there. You need to be willing to take advantage of everything out there to connect with your professors and classmates. An easy example of networking that Adams offered was simply taking the action to go professors’ office hours.
Adams stressed that no faculty is superior to the others when it comes to student assistance, it’s on a personal level of who can help you best and who you can make a connection with.
“UCAP’s focus is helping the students and campus make connections and realize the importance of these connections,” Adams said. “Our dream would be that every student has a network.”
UCAP is interested in collaborating with students, staff and faculty. Please contact UCAP if you would like support with current projects or programs, ideas for new projects or networking materials. Feel free to stop by the UCAP office in UC 330, visit the website at www.ucap.edu and call (859) 572-7703.