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How to network and build connections in the field of Biology as an introvert or a person who is shy to approach people?

Being an international student in a new country, it is hard to form connections in the field of my choice. I wonder how I can to do this to increase my academic and job prospects in the future.

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Catherine’s Answer

For me , you can search and join clubs who have interests to advocate biology conservation. You can work and join as a volunteer in person to the organizations with environmental and life where you can find and grow your networks and meet like-minded people studying in the field of biology. That's what my opinion. I have to do my volunteer work also until now that's why i said this interest to you. Maybe consider other people thoughts. I hope this helps you maybe a little bit . :)
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Jamie’s Answer

Volunteering can be a great way to gain hands on experience as well as meet others with similar interests. Utilizing LinkedIn is another way for you to form connections on your terms. You can reach out to others with similar interests and also looks for individuals with careers that you are looking to pursue for advice. Being shy is just a small obstacle that can easily be overcome. You just need to find your comfort zone and expand a little at a time.
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Kali’s Answer

I tend to find it’s easier to meet and talk with new people when we have a task we’re trying to achieve together, so volunteering or joining a club on campus can be really helpful with that. I know it can be hard to show up to things by yourself, so if you have a friend (even one who isn’t into biology) who would be willing to go with you to a first meeting, that can be helpful. I know as a new student you may not have those friendships yet, but maybe a roommate or another international student would be willing to support you?

Going to your professor’s and or TA’s office hours to ask questions about your coursework or assignments will help you academically and also help you start to build relationships with those people. Sometimes one on one conversations are an easier place to start. You can ask your professor about their research area and if it sounds interesting, ask them questions about what it takes to work in their lab- that’s a great experience to have on your resume and spending time in a lab with a professor and other students is a great way to build relationships more naturally. Don’t assume that it will be easy for you to get a spot working in a lab (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t), but ask your professors’ lots of questions about the work and their advice on working toward your goals, especially around building relationships and getting lab experience, and that will be a good start.

You can also see if there’s a study group for any of your classes or for the biology department. Or you could challenge yourself to identify someone in your class who seems nice or interesting or smart or regularly sits next to you and ask them if they’d be interested in studying together for your next test.

If you’re looking for other professionals to connect with, you can go to your campus’s career center or website and learn about how to connect with alumni from your school sho work in areas you’re interested in. A career advisor can help coach your through strategies on how to reach out and have a productive conversation. Your school may also have networking workshops that train you on this.

You can also go to any events/talks your school hosts related to biology. If you see anyone you know from class, ask them what they’re looking forward to or what they enjoyed about the talk. Maybe write down some questions you could ask the speaker/expert. I find that preparing a list of possible questions in advance helps me feel a little less nervous.
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Mary’s Answer

These are all great pieces of advice! I would add that if you haven't yet established a LinkedIn profile, it's time to get one up and running! Start by exploring potential job titles you aspire to hold, companies you'd love to be a part of, or industries that pique your interest. Reach out and connect with individuals who are already in those positions. Don't hesitate to send them a LinkedIn message requesting an informational interview! Below is a sample message you can use as a starting point. Don't let it dishearten you if not everyone responds; make an effort to connect with as many people as you can. It's common for people to enjoy sharing their personal and professional journeys, so you're likely to get a response from someone. Remember, networking opportunities are everywhere! I once landed a job because a family I babysat for in high school had connections with a company I was interested in, and they were happy to recommend me. Stay persistent - networking, like any other skill, requires practice to perfect.

Hello [X]!

I'm [X], and your profile caught my attention while I was searching for [describe what you are interested in, for example: professionals that work in the fields of biology]. Your unique experience and background truly piqued my interest, and I hope you don't mind me reaching out. Your career journey – [mention one or two of their experiences] – is truly inspiring. I'm eager to connect, learn about your experiences and the significant work you're undertaking at [X], and gain insights from your journey. [Add a line here about being a student, exploring career possibilities, and your interest in conducting a brief informational interview]. I understand that your time is precious, but if you could spare a few moments for a chat, I would be immensely grateful. If not, that's completely fine!
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