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Growing up in Southern California, I had always heard stories about how prolific USC’s alumni network was. Being a naturally shy person, I figured this was an aspect of the school I wouldn’t take much advantage of, as networking couldn’t possibly be my strong suit. However, the casual, small environments that USC Viterbi clubs create between students and recruiters make networking a breeze.

For instance, the Viterbi clubs I’m involved in often host info sessions with companies. Info sessions are events where USC Alumni, who now work at big name companies in the industry, present to students and essentially “pitch” their company. Afterwards, students have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with those recruiters if interested in their company. These conversations are not with intimidating recruiting heads; instead, you speak with USC alumni who have walked the same campus, taken the same classes, and dealt with the same professors as you. Therefore, making lively conversation and lasting connections with recruiters is effortless.

An info session on campus (food is usually provided!)

Moreover, Viterbi clubs often host networking events or compete in design competitions where a plethora of companies and professionals are present. These events take place year round, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to make new connections, as well as reconnect with those you’ve met before. Thus, I cannot stress enough the effectiveness of networking through Viterbi Clubs. 

I have gotten two internships through Viterbi clubs: an architectural internship through the Armenian Engineers and Scientists Association, and a construction internship through the Construction Management Association of America. 

To paint a better picture of networking through Viterbi clubs, I’ll use the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) as an example. Through clubs like CMAA, networking is fun–plus, you forge genuine relationships with professionals. Last fall, I attended the CMAA info session for McCarthy Construction. After their presentation, I introduced myself to the USC Alumni that represented McCarthy. Then, when interviewing for an internship with McCarthy two weeks later, I was interviewed by the same people. Luckily, I got the internship, and was happy to be working with a great group of people the following summer. Later that fall, I attended CMAA Symposium, a night where students and industry professionals come together to network and hear speakers discuss new technologies. At the end of the night, two of my interviewers from McCarthy Construction came up to me, as they had recognized me, and discussed how excited they were to have me that summer. 

My table at CMAA Symposium

However, the story doesn’t end there! Spring semester, I traveled to Nevada to compete in the ASC design competition for CMAA. This competition is a hub for construction companies, meaning I saw plenty of familiar faces throughout the week. One night, I went out to a Karaoke bar and ran into one of the McCarthy employees who had interviewed me. Unfortunately, he had to watch me butcher a rendition of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! by ABBA. Apparently, that was not a dealbreaker, as when McCarthy construction hosted a happy hour at the Downtown LA office for ASC competitors a couple weeks after the competition, he and the rest of the office were happy to see me again. 

Office visit with McCarthy Construction (on the 36th floor!!)

Over the summer I interned at his construction site, and got to work side by side with someone I had first met almost a year prior! Overall, being involved in Viterbi clubs creates a great number of opportunities to interact with industry members. I’m incredibly grateful to say I have many enjoyable networking stories like this, all thanks to Viterbi clubs. 

Araxi Malazian