Leveraging Your Internship to Make Connections
If you took the time to read this, I’m assuming you already know enough about internship and job searches that you’ve heard the phrase “It’s who you know not what you know” more than enough times. As cliché as it is – it’s the truth.
I think Gary Vaynerchuk said it right when he made this declaration to interns around the world this summer – “It’s not what you’re going to learn this summer. As a matter of fact, 98% of you are going to take jobs where they’re not going to teach you shit. It’s stuff you already know. You’re mailing in your summer. It’s really not about what you are going to LEARN, it’s WHO you are going to meet!!!” (Read this piece here)
While some of his advice may seem awkward and intrusive (i.e. stalking social media accounts of employees), making an effort to start a conversation can be very helpful!
I had the fortunate experience of being an intern at a small start-up of approximately 30 employees with frequent opportunities for casual networking and chatting. I wouldn’t be afraid to strike up conversation in our obnoxiously slow elevator about anything – the weather, their role at Verst, their alma mater. You start to realize that after a while they’re pretty interested in getting to know the interns as much as you are interested in getting to know them.
For example, I had casually mentioned wanting to learn to code and get into SQL and Python this summer and into the school year in conversation with a few engineers. To my surprise, I opened Slack to a message containing a series of resources and tips in order to jump start my learning. They also offered to help with anything and were more than willing to offer career advice.
You’ll be surprised at the places people in your office have worked and the amazing things they have done. Google, Goldman Sachs, Uber, Twitter, Vine and AOL are only a handful of the amazing companies that employees of Verst formerly belonged to.
Having a large and active network can be beneficial in multiple forms – achieving feedback, mentorship, future job and internship opportunities. After brief elevator conversations or interactions in the office, I’d go to LinkedIn and send them a connection with a brief note following this template:
Really enjoyed chatting with you in the office the other day! Glad to see we had a mutual interest in (Topic).
A little effort goes a long way!
P.S. – Don’t forget handwritten thank you notes at the end of your internship! Give them to as many people as possible but definitely to your direct supervisor. It leaves a great impression.