3. Networking to Maximize Your Internship –
You are probably saying “Oh, if I got a penny for every time I already heard that advice!” That’s because there just isn’t a way to be successful without it. Once upon a time, wise men used to say, “It’s what you know.” Then they switched to “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.” (Then a saying went around for a while that said “It’s not only who you know, it’s what you know ABOUT them” but that’s just a joke and no, DON’T gossip at work). The real key actually is a combination of both WHAT you know and WHO you know. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to network while you are at your internship. Here are some tips:
Meet People Outside Your Group –
Strike up conversations with people you come across in the elevator, at the cafeteria line, or in the hallway. Introduce yourself with a good handshake (“two firm but not bone-crashing pumps and let go,” says Diane Darling of www.effectivenetworking.com).
Ask what they and their departments do. The more you learn about the company and how the different departments operate, the better you will understand how your work fits in the bigger picture, the better you will become at coming up with good ideas that will help your department and the company. And the more good ideas you have, the more you will stand out from the others.
Set up time to meet with individuals –
During those hallway conversations, set up a time to meet with individuals whose work seems interesting to you. You may also want to ask your manager for the names of a few people she/he would recommend that you meet. Most people will embrace your eagerness to learn and happily give you the time and attention. In addition to finding out more about the other departments in the company, these meetings will be excellent leads towards your first job out of college.
Network with other interns –
It’s important to network with your peers and not just the higher ups in the company. It’s comforting to know that others are also facing similar challenges. Use your peers as a sounding board to bounce ideas. They are great contacts to have you because you never know where they are going to land in the future. Remember to be professional even when you are networking with your peers because they are, after all, your ‘work friends’. They need to respect you if you want them to think of you as a referral for work in the future.
**Quick courtesy tip while networking**
When you are meeting new people at work, don’t just ask, “Are you on Facebook?” or send them friend requests assuming they will be ok with it. Many people use Facebook only for keeping in touch with friends and family.
Please ask, “Do you add work people on Facebook? Is it ok if I connect with you via Facebook?” instead of sending them a friend request and catching them off guard. If they are not comfortable with adding colleagues on Facebook, they will suggest another way to keep in touch (LinkedIn, most likely). Trust me, most people will appreciate this courtesy.
Nuzhat is a Program Manager and Social Media Specialist responsible for creating, managing and marketing the Web 2.0 strategy for EMC’s University Relations. She represents the EMC Employment Brand to prospective interns & entry level candidates using social media tools & techniques and manages the internal online community for EMC’s interns and new college hires. She hosts on campus career development workshops on resume writing, networking skills, Things To Know Before Entering the Real World, etc. She earned her BS Degree in Logisitc & Supply Chain Management from University of North Texas. To find out more, follow her on twitter. To get more information on internships and entry level oppurtunities at EMC, check out www.emc.com/college and folllow EMCCollege on twitter.