For commuter students, continuing education students and teens straight out of high school, it’s very easy to form cliques on a college campus. How else would people survive living in 12 feet by 19 feet dorm rooms or the communal environment of a college campus?

(Photo Courtesy of Andy Clements)

(Photo Courtesy of John Bonk)

And while students may be most likely to connect with like-minded individuals, U.S. News suggests six ways for students to get outside of the bubble, including networking with alumni, attending conferences, reaching out to friends’ parents, effectively using social media, and signing up for internships.

“One of the things that I didn’t do when I was in school was see the benefits of networking with all the great individuals in classes,” said Andy Clements, founder and CEO of Weblinx Incorporated.

“It was very difficult to step outside of my core group of friends. I wish I would’ve taken the opportunity to get to know everybody within my class. A lot of college students don’t realize the benefit of getting to know everybody, even if they’re outside your core group. You’re all on the same path together. You never know down the road who is going to need what services.”

Although he started out wanting to be an elementary school teacher, his technical background and a few connections helped guide his career in a different direction. He earned an associate degree in information systems, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and an MBA with an emphasis in operations and technology.

“I really don’t know if I had the ambition to have my own company initially. IT was pretty cool, and gaming was a hobby of mine, as was design. One thing lead to another. I got the internship. They were very impressed with the work. That sparked the idea of starting my own business.”

After Clements was hired to create several websites, he decided to test out starting his own company, originally named Designed by Clements, in 2000. The CEO credits his love for learning as being the way he’s still able to run his web business 15 years later.

“In this field, if we were doing the exact same thing that we were doing two years ago, we’d be out of business by now. Life-long learning is definitely essential.”

Shamontiel L. Vaughn is a professional journalist who has work featured in AXS, Yahoo!, Chicago Defender and Chicago Tribune. She’s been an Examiner since 2009 and currently writes about 10 categories on