It's Time.

For me, it didn’t truly settle in until I watched them get into their cars, planes, and buses. I had watched as the #RE16N’s turned to #ITSLI7 and finally #DOM1N8’s; I’d attended oodles of graduate celebrations for relatives, long-time friends, classmates, and church mates; I’d visited colleges and even cracked the door and peered into the all too real realm of the Common App. Still, it wasn’t until I actually watched the class of 2017 leave - some to colleges down the road and others to universities on the opposite side of the country - that I realized that there were no long upperclassmen to emulate, to look to for advice, or to buffer us from the plunge into the real world. We’re the seniors now, and that task of mentoring and role-modeling, as we’ll as preparing for the next chapter of our lives, is on us.

As we prepare for this transition, and as the now freshman, sophomores, and juniors look ahead,  one skill I continually see to be of high importance is networking. Networking is a fairly broad catch-all that can take many forms. This past summer, I had the opportunity to work at Rockwell Automation, an engineering firm that focuses developing products used to control manufacturing plants such as Ford Motors, assembly lines such as Hawaiian Bread, and large scale integrated machines, such as the roller coasters at Cedar Point. My team and I were tasked with writing software used to test the products in the event of an emergency. Over the course of the two and a half months, I spent there, I was genuinely surprised to see how important building a network in corporate environment is on a daily basis - whether you’re a student looking for opportunities in different departments or an employee who is looking to get a proposal approved or needs resources from another segment of the company. In addition to building my professional network,

 
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I also had the opportunity to build my network of students during an engineering summer program at MIT. I learned about the roles mentors and alumni played in the success of the careers of MIT grads and formed connections with like-minded students from around the country that I continue to make use of.

Here, at Be the Change Venture, we seek to educate on the importance of networking and provide students with the opportunity to grow and make use of their network. In the past, we’ve released an instructional video and hosted an event at CWRU. This year, we hope to focus more on connecting students in our communities, and we hope you’ll be a part of it - whether that’s attending our events, sharing your story, or potentially joining our team. Please look out for future updates.

Justin Tinker