One of the most important elements of an internship learning experience is the opportunity to make new connections and expand your network. Networking is more than just “talking to people.” It is face to face meetings in which you seek advice and information from organization resources, allowing you to be better informed and providing insight as you begin to explore different career and job opportunities. Getting to know other employees, their roles and contributions in the company, broadens your company and industry knowledge. Showing interest in others and asking them about their experiences allows you to gain first-hand information and knowledge not available through other sources.
Basic Networking Steps:
- Once you’ve been working for a while, consider who you might talk with to learn more about the profession, the company or potential opportunities. Prepare a brief introduction/speech (30 second “elevator speech”) that states something about who you are, your experiences and interests, and what you’re looking to learn (questions on work, functions, careers, the industry or the company are typical). Use this introduction as the opening of your conversation as you approach potential networking contacts.
- Be sure that you plan a convenient (and mutually agreeable) time for the individual you want to talk to and limit the length of time you take with them (20-30 minutes is a good gauge).
- Scheduling time in advance is imperative and telling the individual a little about why you’re seeking to meet is strongly recommended.
- Providing an up-to-date resume is helpful and will give the person you seek to network with some background on your education and previous experiences, clubs, and any volunteer work, all of which may be valuable to the discussion.
- After you’ve met, be sure to thank the person you met with in writing and acknowledge the value of the meeting and the information you received. (See additional information below on thanking networking contacts.)
- You may also want to keep in touch with any networking contacts and keep them informed about how you’re doing on your Internship or provide information about things you may be involved in on your work assignment.
- Be sure to connect on LinkedIn after all network meetings.
Seton Hall Alumni: Pirate Mentors
Seeking out Seton Hall alumni is a great way to network both within your organization and industry. Do some research using LinkedIn or speak with your career advisor to see if any Seton Hall alumni work in your company. Pirate Mentors are alumni who have volunteered to assist students and fellow alumni with career-related questions.
Alumni can share their experiences and provide answers to questions you may have about the organization or industry. They might also be members of professional industry organizations and share information on the field, trends and issues.
Using Networking Contacts and Thanking Them:
Be careful not to overuse a contact or take advantage of a relationship (by asking for too many meetings). Also, always thank the contact with a note (email is fine) but keep it sincere and professional (avoid slang and smiley faces or other informal symbols or abbreviations). In your thank you letter, thank the contact for taking time to meet with you, briefly address what you learned and your appreciation for the information, and, if appropriate, summarize the next steps you will take going forward as a result of what you learned.
Other Networking Thoughts – Using Organization Meetings and Conferences:
Attending organization meetings and conferences adds to your company knowledge and greatly expands your network. They may also be helpful in giving you insights into the work and skills required.
Be aware that networking is a two-way street and you should think about ways you might be able to help those you network with. This can include providing information about your school, The Career Center, student associations or other organizations that you may be familiar with that the networking contact will find valuable. Also volunteering to help with a charitable company event or activity may be another way to give something back to the networking contact.