Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Hands down, the best way to get an internship or job is to network. “Networking” means, quite simply, talking to people, as many as you can, about specific careers, industries, companies, organizations, and jobs, that are of interest to you. The goal of networking is also simple: It is to help you advance your career objectives.
So, why is networking so important and how do you do it?
Most jobs or internships are never advertised. They are usually filled by candidates who have found a way to connect to people in the company or organization. And even when a job or internship is advertised, there may be hundreds, or even thousands of qualified applicants. Again, the job frequently goes to the person who has been able to connect to the organization. The best way to get a job or internship is to know someone, or know someone who knows someone who will help put your resume at the top of the pile or put in a good word for you.
Your network will likely be the most important factor in getting your first job and will continue to be the key throughout your career.
Here are several different groups of people who as a student, make up your network.
This includes your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. They may or may not have the best connections in your chosen field, but they will often work the hardest, on your behalf, to maximize the connections they have.
This includes your friends, your friends’ parents, your parents’ friends, and friends of friends. You never know who knows who.
Teachers and Coaches:
They know you, know what you are best at, and want to help. They may be able to introduce you to colleagues or former students who work in the field you are interested in.
They may know recent grads in your chosen field. They may have already found their own internship or job and are eager to help others.
Alumni from both your high school and college are a great resource. Even if you don’t know them, you have an immediate connection. Alumni are frequently thrilled to help students from their alma mater.
People you have worked with, either at a summer or part-time job or internship, know your work ethic and skills. And they are likely to know people in your chosen field.
It is important to develop a relationship with your school career services counsellors as early as possible when you arrive at college. They will be the first to hear of companies and organizations who are looking for people from your school.
LinkedIn is a great way to build and expand your network. You can post your resume and tell people that you are looking for a job.
Follow Up and Say Thank You:
The most important thing about networking is to follow up with and thank anyone and everyone who tried to help you, whether it is by connecting you with someone else or by just talking to you about a particular industry or organization. Within a day after speaking to someone, send an email to show you appreciate the time they spent to help you. Once you have found your dream internship or job, reach out to everyone who helped you along the way and share your great news. They are now your network and will appreciate hearing from you and being part of your success when you don’t need anything from them.