Notes from the Field: Encouraging Interns to Network

January 20, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Networking often conjures up images of people in business professional attire approaching strangers at a mixer and passing out business cards. You and I both know that this is rarely the reality. It’s also not news to you that internships are a great opportunity for students to develop their network of professional contacts. Students often start their internship knowing this but are sometimes uncertain how to go about networking. Here are some tangible ways to encourage interns to begin networking.

  1. 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 once their internship ends.

  1. 2. Conduct informational interviews

Busy executives are often willing to spend 30 minutes to talk about their career path with interns. I often remind students that this passing down of knowledge and wisdom is invaluable—and flattering for the professional!  Also, people remember a quality interaction and display of initiative.  Before they jump in, I encourage students to conduct preliminary research on the individual, prepare thoughtful questions, and ALWAYS send a thank you note.

  1. 3. Volunteer

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. While it can be time-consuming, volunteering is a great opportunity for relationship building, while building skills!

These are three tangible ways that even shy but eager interns can start to network. Because after all, 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 deliberate, 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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