Industry Tip - Planting the Seed for Networking Events
What is the one thing that every college student worries about?
Everything! But, more specifically, they’re worried about getting a job after graduation and the who, what, when, where, and why of it all. Being a young adult is overwhelming enough, trust me, we can use all the help and advice we can get. I recently helped plan and participated in an event that I think made a big difference for students – and you can do it too.
Did you go to the Philadelphia Flower Show this year? I sure did, and let me tell you about an amazing horticulture networking event that Seed Your Future hosted on Saturday, March 9th. Three fabulous organizations, Seed Your Future, Longwood Gardens, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society came together to help make a difference in the lives of young students. It was my honor to help organize it. We had the brilliant idea to take advantage of the professional horticulturists and student attendees at the show to put them all together in one room to talk about what they all have in common, PLANTS – and an interest in plant careers!
This networking event was not for professionals-to-professionals, but professionals-to-students, to help bridge the gap between the people who’ve done it all to those who are just starting.
So, we knew we had to at least try to have a networking event during the flower show, after weeks of planning and consulting educators, students, and industry professionals, we were ready! The day had arrived, we had a breakfast buffet set up, handouts spread out across each table, a lovely check-in table with fun stuff from our professionals.
We also made sure to have a handout with all the professionals present with their photo, mini-biography, and space to take notes. Additionally, we provided career sheets based on interests to help students who didn’t know what career within horticulture they wanted to pursue.
It was a very informal event with students easily interacting with professionals. We also had staff walking around helping students find who would be the best professional to talk with based on their interests and make that initial introduction (Check out who we recruited to help). But, honestly, some students shined on their own without our guidance!
At the end of the event, I was surprised by how smoothly the event ran. For a pilot event that has never been done before, we succeeded without a hitch! There was an amazing turnout from both professionals and students and everybody had a great time learning from each other. I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the students after the event, and she thanked us for having such a productive event that has helped her prepare and gain insight for her future. She even asked us when the next one is being held just minutes after this one ended!
Host Your Own Networking Event: Make the Impossible, Possible
It was such a delight seeing the positive impact our hard work had on students and how easy it was to achieve a massive impact in just a few hours. If you really think about it, all we had to do was…
- Invite professionals (most of whom were already at the show)
- Invite students (most of whom were already at the show)
- Reserve a spacious room
- Order delicious food and beverages
- Bring materials
- Make introductions
- Let the magic happen
If you sit down and think about it, there are plenty of events nationwide that have industry professionals and students already participating, such as Cultivate, the American Society for Horticultural Science, the Society of American Florists, etc. If each of these conferences held an informal networking event like this in which students have the opportunity to learn from professionals to become more interested in the industry or validate their career choice, then there would be “🎵 no worries for the rest of your days 🎵.” The horticulture industry would thrive tremendously by humanizing the industry for young adults and illustrating how successful, intriguing, and fun a career in horticulture could be! And who knows, this could increase the horticulture workforce supply.
Don’t take my word for it, a picture is worth a thousand words and check out the photo of the networking event! Everybody looks so comfortable, at ease talking to each other, helping each other succeed in their dreams.
- Zuny Jamatte, Seed Your Future Intern
Zuny Jamatte is the current Seed Your Future Communications Intern. She is a recent college graduate with a passion for digital media arts and an avid learner for web, graphic, print, video, and photographic design and production. She’ll be completing her internship in May 2019 and will be on the job market. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.