Notes from the Field: Encouraging Interns to Network

December 7, 2010 at 11:17 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Internships are a great opportunity for students to develop their network of professional contacts. Students start their internship with this knowledge but are sometimes uncertain how to go about networking. Networking often conjures up images of people in business professional attire approaching strangers at a mixer and passing out business cards. It’s no wonder that networking does not practically translate into a typical internship week. Here are some tangible ways to encourage interns to begin networking.

1. Create a LinkedIn profile and connect with colleagues

This technologically savvy millennial generation can create a professional online presence by joining LinkedIn and connecting with their internship supervisor and other staff members they have established a working relationship with. I remind students that this keeps them connected to individuals and not just the employer in case they change companies.

2. Conduct informational interviews

Busy executives are often willing to spend 30 minutes to share about their career path with interns. I often remind students that this passing down of knowledge and wisdom is invaluable. Also, people remember interns after a quality interaction and display of initiative. Tips I provide students are to conduct preliminary research on the individual, come prepared with thoughtful questions, and to send a thank you note.

3. Volunteer

Proactive interns readily jump at the chance to take on additional projects or join an organization wide committee and see this as an opportunity for relationship building. When I was an intern for a local municipal government, I joined a committee whose purpose was to research how other organizations promoted employee retention and satisfaction. Not only did I develop great knowledge of this area, I was introduced to colleagues in various departments I would not have met otherwise.

These are three tangible ways that even shy but eager interns can create networking opportunities for others to become familiar with them. I often remind interns that internships are much more than just completing assignments and tasks. They are ripe opportunities for developing a network that can serve as a foundation for a fulfilling career.

Sarah Yoo is the Internship Coordinator at Pomona College, a selective liberal arts college located in the greater Los Angeles area. She obtained her graduate degree at California State University, Long Beach in Counseling with an emphasis on Student Development in Higher Education and obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego in Sociology. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, spending time with friends and family, and cooking.

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