For many students, an internship is their first foray into the “real world,” or a key to helping them break into a new field. Internships provide fundamental on-the-job training that can’t be learned in a classroom setting, and they also give students a chance to learn the most valuable skill of all: networking.
Benefits of Networking
Networking can be used throughout one’s entire career. It allows interns to build valuable relationships as they begin their professional career. The contacts acquired and relationships developed can help students find a job after graduation, serve as a reference on their resumes, and even connect them with new opportunities down the road. Networking is about more than just exchanging hellos—it’s about building lasting professional relationships. In just a few simple steps, students can build networking into their internship experience.
Step 1: Make a List
When thinking about networking, it helps to make a list of interesting or influential people within the organization, like a supervisor, project manager, or even a member of the leadership team. Valuable connections can be made with nearly anyone, but it’s best to start with just one person who is easily accessible to the intern.
Step 2: Ask Them Out
Inviting a colleague out can be just as intimidating as asking out a love interest, but there are easy ways to do it. When the intern and colleague are in a common area together, the intern could bring up a mutual interest to spark a discussion, then chat for a few minutes. This is a great time to schedule a follow-up conversation over coffee!
Step 3: Get to Know Each Other
Once it’s time to grab that cup of coffee, the intern should listen and show interest in what the colleague says. This is a good time to learn a bit about their career, passions, and life to build the foundation of a professional relationship.
Step 4: Keep in Touch
The most important part of networking is remaining in touch! Meeting someone once and reaching out to them when you need something isn’t the way to do it. There’s also no reason to call them weekly, but checking in periodically will help your professional relationship last long-term. From a quick email with a relevant article or resource to an invitation to an industry-related event or seminar, it's good to make the relationships mutually beneficial for both parties.
These networking tips for interns can help anyone breaking into a new career field make valuable professional contacts. If you’ve been considering changing your field, you might be interested in one of the programs of study available through the Tulane School of Professional Advancement. We have degrees and programs for students of all levels, from master’s degrees to certificates of completion. Call us today at (504) 865-5555 to learn more about SoPA!