Internship Insights: The Power of Internal Networking
This week’s blog is written by Peer Career Coach, Didi Kanu (Chemical Engineering, 2024).
Embarking on an internship is not just an opportunity to sharpen your technical skills, but also a chance to build valuable professional connections. Networking can be a powerful tool in shaping your career path and enhancing your internship experience. This blog dives into the importance of networking during an internship and provides tips to help you make the most out of your experience.
Why Networking is Important
- Career Advancement: Networking opens doors to potential job opportunities, allowing you to explore different facets of the field or industry you’re interested in. By connecting with professionals in your industry, you gain insights into various career paths and can discover areas you might not have considered before.
- Mentorship Opportunities: Networking also allows you to find mentors who can guide you in your career journey. Having a mentor can provide you with valuable advice, help you set career goals, and offer support in overcoming challenges you may face.
Tips on Getting Started
- Attend Company/Intern Events: Make the most of different events, workshops, team outings, and meetups your company may host. You can even join the Employee Resource Groups as an intern! These events are great opportunities to connect with professionals and other interns, while engaging in meaningful conversations. Take the initiative to introduce yourself and express genuine interest in others' work. Building that strong internal network can be crucial and may lead to valuable opportunities and collaborations in the future.
- Informational 1-on-1s: Request 1-on-1 meetings with colleagues at your company whose work aligns with your interests, even if it is different from the work area you are currently in. This is one of the most important and beneficial activities you can do during your internship. The informal setting allows you to learn more about their career journeys, seek advice, and potentially learn about other internship or job openings. Don’t be afraid to reach out virtually to those who may be at a different site location as well. Most people are more than willing to speak with you, and the interaction may lead to a long-lasting mentoring relationship. Additionally, they can often introduce you to others in your field of interest, further expanding your network.
- Follow Up: After meeting someone new, it is always good to follow up with a personalized message expressing your gratitude for the interaction. If you discussed any potential opportunities, be sure to mention your interest and willingness to connect further and utilize LinkedIn to remain connected with those you meet.
- Be Genuine: Authenticity is key in networking. Be yourself, share your experiences, and express your passion for the work/industry you’re in. People are more likely to remember and engage with individuals who are authentic and relatable.
- Reciprocate: Approach networking with a mindset of both giving and receiving—offer your skills, knowledge, or assistance to others in your network. As an intern or early career engineer, it may be difficult to consider what you can offer to a professional. However, sharing with them your passions, aspirations, and interests allows them to be invested in getting to know you and strengthening the relationship as well. Ensuring the relationship is not one-sided creates the foundation for long-term connections.
- Stay Connected: Networking is an ongoing process; connections don’t end when your internship ends. Continue to attend events, connect with people online, and stay engaged. Regularly updating your LinkedIn profile and sharing relevant content will keep you on the radar of your professional network. Additionally, if you do have a mentor from the summer, reach out during the school year and stay in contact!
In conclusion, networking during your internship or job is a key aspect of success. By proactively seeking out opportunities to connect with professionals, you not only enhance your internship experience, but also lay the groundwork for a successful career. Remember that building a strong network takes time and effort, but the benefits will extend far beyond the end of your internship and can help shape your professional journey.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller