Several factors scored me many internship offers, education, previous experience, cover letters, interviewing skills, and personality, but one of the most important factors was networking and making connections. While it is possible to get hired by cold applying, putting in the time to make connections and putting yourself out there can certainly increase your chances even higher and make the interviewing process faster. No matter where you are in your career or being a student, it is SO important to keep networking on the top of your mind because you never know, the right person with the right opportunity could come along. As a first-generation student, building connections was critical for me, like many other students. Networking can go a long way, and this has proven true for me so far. Here are some benefits I learned through networking my way to my first internships.
Professionals networking. Image from Bellecommunication.com
Getting Involved on Campus
Joining a club while you are a student can be rewarding in several ways. Throughout my college experience within clubs, I have had the ability to explore interests, meet new peers, make connections, and take advantage of several leadership opportunities. By meeting new people, you can connect with more individuals who are like-minded to you, get on the executive board, and then put that position on your resume! I certainly did this for myself, and it showed the interviewer that I can handle responsibilities outside of school work, have leadership skills and demonstrated initiative. This also becomes a great conversation starter.
Build Your Network
One of the sources that I found highly valuable for building your network is the online community LinkedIn. Build your brand and ensure that your profile is optimized to highlight all of your relevant skills and previous experiences. I also noticed that increasing the frequency of my posts and engagement increased my authority and made my profile more visible. Reaching out to mutual connections to build your followers to 500+ can also help build your professional profile. Once you feel comfortable with your profile, reach out to any connections at companies you would like to intern with to see if they would be willing to meet for an informational interview. There are several templates online that you can use to reach out to them. This is a great way to connect with someone who can give you insight into a field you'd like to work for and potentially provide you with internship opportunities. Suppose you are looking to make a connection in hopes of landing a future internship or job. In that case, I recommend sending a brief in-message email on LinkedIn to an individual who works in the department you wish to work in or a talent acquisition recruiter. You can ask for a short call or a coffee chat. When doing this, you can ask to learn more about their experience in their job, how they got where they are in their career today, or ask for any advice they can give you. Make this message light and friendly, and if they do not reply right away, it is okay to follow up with them after.
Turn an Interview Rejection into a Networking Opportunity
Throughout my internship search, I faced some rejections after being interviewed, but I always made sure to turn that rejection into a personal connection. I once interviewed for a big corporation, and after making the final round and not landing the internship, I made sure to reach out to the recruiter and ask for feedback and show my gratitude. Not only did this show her I was thankful for this opportunity, but it showed her my interest. This led to us connecting, and she offered me different opportunities that led to one of my internship offers.
Steps to Generate a Networking Connection with the Interviewer
Ask for feedback - Ask your recruiter for feedback on your interview performance. Having this constructive feedback will help you pinpoint the areas that need improvement.
Show gratitude - View this feedback as a gift you are receiving. It aims to help you improve your skills and help you land your next job. Thank the person providing you with feedback and assure them you will take their advice and improve on the areas they list; then, you can ask them to keep you in mind for opportunities they may hear.
Follow Up - Sometimes, when asking for feedback, you may not always receive it. If more than a week has passed by and you still have not heard back from the company, send a follow-up email expressing your interest in the company and the passion you have for that certain career.
Attend Networking Events!
These events can be a little intimidating, but it's a great way to connect and meet new individuals or professionals! During my time in college, I always made sure to attend as many networking events as I could because I knew the several benefits and rewards that came from them. These events can not only provide you with job opportunities, but this is the best way for you to gain first-hand access to career advice and support! At these events, you can speak and ask questions to experienced professionals within a specific industry of your interest, which is a significant benefit for you to land that dream internship.
The importance of making connections in college is very crucial. Searching for an internship was not easy but networking and connecting with my peers, professionals, and recruiters made the process much smoother. If you are nervous, it will improve with practice and time. You can also use a HiWave sticker which allows you to connect with an individual with a simple tap, you can exchange any and all of your contact details with anyone you meet. Get your free HiWave sticker at hiwave.co. The sooner you start your networking journey, the better your chances are of connecting with an individual who will give you an internship/job booster opportunity later on. I hope my internship searching route can help you land your dream internship! Good luck!