Networking and Informational Interviewing are essential tools in the career exploration and future job search process. Networking is the process of making informal contacts and building relationships that provide you with information, advice, and further contacts, all of which will enhance your ability to make informed career decisions and tap into unadvertised opportunities. Your internship is a great platform for you to network with professionals in the industry. Here are a few things you can do at your internship site:
1. Conduct informational interviews with your co-workers.
Spend time getting to know your co-workers, look around the organization and target at least five people whom you want to get to know or admire. Reach out first to those who are easiest to approach—hold off on chatting with the heads of the company. Ask them questions related to their career experiences. Whether you formally request a 30-minute sit down meeting or have a quick conversation over a coffee break, you are networking! Check out our networking resources and use your lunch or coffee break to get to know another person in your organization.
2. Build and maintain a relationship before asking for referrals.
After you meet with someone at your job, your next step is to build and maintain a relationship. Strangers won’t put their reputations on the line for you so take some time to get to know your new colleague. Recall what you have in common with them and develop a follow-up plan. Consider dropping a personal note to a new contact, requesting to connect with them through LinkedIn, or simply following up with a helpful article. After you establish a working relationship, ask to see if they can refer you to someone else in your industry of choice.
3. Attend company events.
Don’t just hang out with other interns. Instead, ask to attend company social events or play in the company softball league or volunteer with their charity of choice.
4. Shadow someone for a day.
If you come across someone interesting or want to know more about other departments within your organization, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor if you can shadow someone for a day or meet with someone from that department.
What is next?!
Your professional relationships are key to your career success.
It’s never too early to get LinkedIn! LinkedIn is a professional networking site that will help you summarize your academic accomplishments and connect with industry professionals, alumni and classmates. It’s easy to sign up for an account, but new users often get stuck asking “what next”? Simply having an account isn’t enough, so here are a few tips for students on getting started with LinkedIn:
Make Connections. If you can build a decent sized network on LinkedIn, all the other features will work much better! The first thing you should do is connect with your family, friends, classmates, professors and anyone else you interact with on campus. You can also import contacts from your address book and identify professionals and peers with whom you would like to connect. Good choices are fellow students from class/activities, former co-workers and supervisors, or close family friends. Often times, it is also appropriate to connect with people at the internship site.