How Elizabeth Parmenter Builds a Network

Elizabeth Parmenter photo
It’s August and students are arriving on campus. While classes may top the list of worries for many students, their connection with others is generally a close second. Whether you are a first-year student or are returning to Purdue, building and maintaining a network of friendships and support is imperative to thriving. Elizabeth Parmenter has found that her network was impacted primarily by her intentionality.

Her first intentional step to build her network was to first figure out what she enjoyed and wanted to be a part of. She went to the Be Involved Fair and looked for clubs and organizations that she enjoyed and fit within four areas: personal development, professional development, social development and academic development. After she found information for clubs and organizations that fit within these areas she narrowed down her options. She took the advice that she would share with other students – “Students [should] pick a few clubs to get invested into rather than spreading themselves thin between many different clubs. You can have a bigger impact if you’re giving yourself more fully so aim to do this by joining just a few. Beyond that I would just suggest building connections with people in those clubs, not just as peers or teammates, but as friends.”

One way that she builds these connections is by being intentionally present in organization meetings. She does this by building in the amount of time she needs so that she is not distracted by other things. She can then give her attention to the others in the meeting. She says that she does this by not having her phone out and maintaining eye contact. This has allowed her to make the connections to build a network as well as find leadership roles, including as case communications officer for the EPICS program.

She said that this role allowed her to make intentional connections with so many people because she had to reach out to each of them and learn about them so that she could tell their story. Her role in EPICS also allowed her to join a team to help a young girl with schizencephaly, a congenital disease that can cause developmental delays, seizures and problems with brain-spinal cord communication.

Building a network can play a role in your own well-being, help you develop as a leader and grow in so many other areas within the Steps to Leaps pillars – but it takes intentionality.

“I think the students that grow in these areas are set to become the leaders of tomorrow,” Elizabeth says. “These are the individuals that care about making a difference. Steps to Leaps is a great way to encourage this growth.”