Going back to school can help you network and find potential references, get inside information about job openings, and meet potential customers. This is especially important for people starting a new career or retraining, because they aren't established in their market yet. While going back to school to do these things isn't right for everyone, it's well worth considering. There are many grant and loan options, and choosing to go back to school when the job market is tough keeps your skills up for when things improve.
You'll find plenty of potential references through education. Just because the other students are in class with you doesn't mean they don't have employment and/or know people at various companies and businesses. Even if they aren't directly connected to employment opportunities, you can use them as character or personal references when you apply for work. It's good to know a few people and have them help you out when you're trying to get a new job. You can probably do the same for them.
Inside information is also something you may be able to get while you're in school. People who are attending classes but are also employed will probably know if their employer or a competitor is hiring. They may also know just what that company is looking for, or have some tips and tricks you should pay attention to in order to make sure you have the best chance of getting hired. Use that inside information to your advantage, so you can get the job you want at a company you like.
Potential customers can also be among your classmates. If you're planning on opening up your own business, you'll need clients. Depending on what kind of business you'll be running and how much you charge, fellow classmates may want to work with you or buy from you. That's something to consider carefully. Try not to alienate anyone you come into contact with in school, because you never know what the future might hold. That person may even work for a larger company that would be interested in being a customer of yours. Don't lose out on the potential for revenue.
Beginning a new career, or retraining for one, takes time and effort. One of the best things you can do in order to get your foot in the door is to network with others who are already in that line of work. People who are also changing careers or retraining can be valuable friends and good resources. Together, you can help one another out when it comes to interviewing, job leads, and industry trends. Take what you can from meeting and getting to know those people, and be sure to give back to them when you have information to share. Forming those kinds of bonds can help get you through a difficult and uncertain time.
The idea of going back to school can seem scary to people who have been out of the workforce for a while. That's understandable, but networking can make it easier. You're certainly not the only one in your situation, and there are plenty of other nervous students who would be happy to know they're not alone. Consider that when attending classes, and don't be afraid to reach out to other people. While you might not click with all of them, you'll be more likely to make friends and find people who can help you move forward with your career once your schooling is done. It's a great feeling to see yourself getting involved in a new and exciting career field.