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Mangala Prasetia, Global Online MBA student shares his top tips for networking ahead of welcome week at Imperial College Business School.

Sometimes, the first day of university can seem quite daunting – where do I go for my classes? What subjects do I pick to study? How do I make the most out of my university experience? These were some of the questions that swam around my head as I embarked on my highly anticipated journey to Imperial College London (15,000 kilometers away from a place I called home – Australia). One of the ways in which I alleviated my concerns was through networking, even before arriving at Imperial College Business School. 

Networking is often viewed as the secret ingredient to success. Throughout my life, countless lecturers, mentors, and peers from academic and professional backgrounds have reminded me about the importance of building meaningful connections. In fact, investing in a robust and diverse network can reap rewards – including finding out where classes are held, what subjects and electives to pick, as well as knowing how to make the most of the opportunities available! Without further ado, here are the top five tips to building a thriving university support network.  

I personally find that building a strong network before university starts will provide you with a support network and a sense of comfort when you attend your first day.  

1. Start a conversation on social media:  

LinkedIn, Whatsapp, IB connect, Voxx - there is no shortage of social media channels (both official and unofficial) that allow you to sign up and connect with fellow students, alumni from Imperial College Business School. The Uni Buddy group for your particular study and cohort is a useful starting point. The Imperial College Business School community is always happy to share their experiences which provide a fresh perspective on how to successfully navigate the Imperial life.  

2. Join seminars and events: 

There are plenty of seminars and other meetups or activities which are offered by the Business School during the semester breaks or orientation week. Most of these can be found on IB Connect. Some of these events are advertised through newsletters, so check your emails! Some events are also hosted by industry professionals, so this is the opportunity for you to obtain insights and advice on how to find opportunities within your target industry or job.  

3. Sign up for interest groups and specific communities   

Joining communities that align with your interests and aspirations will allow you to engage with other students who share the same passions, whether it be about startups, sci-fi movies or climate education, Imperial has a club for everyone. I’d encourage incoming students to check out one of the biggest student communities, the Imperial Enterprise Lab. Imperial Enterprise Lab Given Imperial is known for its entrepreneurial spirit, it will be beneficial for you to connect with a few students from this Slack group, even if you haven’t thought about your own start-up (yet!) 

4. Think outside your cohort 

Actively find opportunities to interact with students outside of the Business School – whether it be through seminars or interest groups. Imperial College London is renowned for its STEM subjects, getting an understanding of inter-disciplinary concepts is a competitive advantage in most modern workplaces as businesses actively seek technologically literate employees and harness STEM advancements (such as generative AI). 

5. Find a mentor (or multiple ones!) 

Lastly, and most importantly, find someone (or multiple people) who are willing to be your mentors and provide counsel to you even before university starts so you can optimise your university experience. In addition to attending seminars, events and being active on social media, you can also engage with your professors and other faculty staff (e.g. programme advisors) to see if they can help identify an appropriate mentor who can guides you throughout your journey.   

So all the best with connecting! I personally find that building a strong network before university starts will provide you with a support network and a sense of comfort when you attend your first day.