7 answers

What are some strategies or tips for building a network while searching for an internship?

Asked Tracy, California

Building a network has been one of the hardest things I have had to do. At times it makes me question my abilities. How does someone maintain confidence while searching for an internship (getting denied a lot) but trying to build a network with the same people? #internship #networking #interviews #business

7 answers

Claire’s Answer

I agree with Sarah - friends of friends/family/current coworkers is the best way to go, as they can introduce you! Reach out to your professors, family, friends on LinkedIn or social media and let them know that you are interested in an internship in X field. People love to help!

Something else that wouldn't hurt is to reach out to people in industries or companies that you're interested in on LinkedIn that are from your hometown or went to your same high school. I've received lots of cold e-mails from people that went to the same college as me asking for an informational interview to learn more about what my job is like. If I like them, I even refer them for internships or positions!

Claire recommends the following next steps:

  • Reach out to teachers, family, and friends and let them know you're looking for an internship
  • Reach out to people that you have some connection with on LinkedIn (such as the same high school) and ask if they'd be willing to get coffee or chat on the phone with you
Updated
Thank you, Claire. Fantastic answer and deep down, I had a feeling it would lead to me this, and now I need to get outside my comfort zone and trust who I am. Have a great day!

Matthew’s Answer

Sarah's answer is amazing! I would heavily echo a lot of what she mentioned. When thinking about expanding your network or addressing the 'who you know?' question, it's important to start with 'who knows you?' to help find the right people to network with. I feel a common misconception with networking is simply adding people to your LinkedIn network or social media outlets, but often times the most beneficial relationships are those that understand why you are creating the relationship. Being upfront and open about expanding your network with specifics is always a great start to the conversation for many ways. A good way to start this strategy is not only identify who you'd like to network with, but why specifically. Through my experience, meeting people at an events or through work are often a bit dry when I don't do my research. Once you do some research, the initial conversation can be very enlightening and memorable. When it comes to building your network, standing out or being memorable is what strengthens those relationships and the opportunities that come out of them. Hope this helps!

Matthew recommends the following next steps:

  • Practice this with professors/teachers or family friends by first getting a name (or names) of someone that you received from a professor/teacher or family friend.
  • Research those people through LinkedIn or any way you can. Gather information that will help you be able to ask the right questions to discover what you are looking for from that relationship.
  • Rinse and repeat. Networking is an endless game but a very powerful one. Continuing to try this over and over will only make you stronger and stronger at creating mutually beneficial professional relationships
Updated
Thank you, Matthew. I can say that I have not put in the research as needed, and when attending some job fairs I've gone to some booths and felt it. I will take your advice and apply. Have a great day!

Carson’s Answer

I would also recommend identifying areas / industries that interest you. Don't be discouraged if after the internship ends, you don't feel compelled to continue in that field. Rather, internships are effective in exposing you to a variety of work and responsibilities that you could potentially pursue full-time. I had 7 internships across a variety of industries (sports broadcasting, finance, marketing, etc.) beginning sophomore year of high school & I didn't end up working in any of those fields! Additionally when applying for a full-time role, this gives you an opportunity to build a resumé and discuss the various projects you worked on while applying them to the potential role.

The most important advice I can share is to be open and willing to listen to feedback shared by those you interact with. You'll find that it's a lot easier to build a network when you take the initiative to engage with someone and absorb their feedback like a sponge. With each interaction, come with a set of questions in mind that you can ask the mentor - it will help guide the conversation & build your confidence. Lastly, be curious; curiosity is a critical trait to possess in life, not just in the workplace. It will lead you to ask more "why" questions than you might ever imagine & in turn build your perspective!

Carson recommends the following next steps:

  • Identify areas of interest
  • Build a list of questions to guide your discussions
Updated
Thank you, Carson! Building a list currently.

Keyla’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California
Hello! Additionally I would join groups on linkedin. If there's a company you're interested in for an internship, you could also reach out via message, as some people accept messages even if they're outside of your network. You could begin a conversation about your interest which would take you a step past the application. Don't be discouraged as it's common for some people not to respond, but it's worth the shot! I've tried it and was able to arrange som coffee dates to learn and prepare. Good luck!

Sarah’s Answer

Hi there! I know that building a network takes time and can be discouraging when you haven't made the progress you think you should be - BUT I'd guess that you are probably already halfway there! My recommendation would be to chat with people that you already know well - a professor, teacher, coach or even friends of relatives - and let them know that you are looking to expand your professional network and to ask for their recommendation on who to speak with. That will both give you some credibility right off the bat (as a mutual acquaintance) but these people may already know a bit more about your strengths and interests. I'd ask a few adults you trust to introduce you to someone, and ask if you can take them out for a cup of coffee or schedule a phone call for an informational interview. Once you have that conversation, don't forget to thank them and follow up with them on any advice they shared that you have put into action! I hope that helps!

Updated
Thank you, Sarah! Very insightful and I never thought to incorporate family, but who better.

David’s Answer

Updated Sausalito, California

Don't get discouraged, look at it as a process. There are a lot of great recommendations here on how to grow it through a digital experience like LinkedIn. As far as growing your network I would start with looking at what you are passionate about - hobbies, etc. and find opportunities to participate in local group events/clubs/meetups/volunteering where you will meet people who share the same interests. It will be easy to connect and it might act as a platform to grow your network.


David recommends the following next steps:

  • Take things you are passionate about and try to find local events, clubs etc where you will interact with others who share the same interests.
  • Another recommendation I would give you is look at each interview for an internship as an opportunity to improve. If for some reason you don't get the internship feel comfortable following up with the hiring manager and solicit feedback along with recommendations you can act on moving forward.
Updated
David, thank you for your answer. I started looking at some meetups, and suprisingly there is a lot within the Bay Area. Now I need to get the courage to go outside of my comfort zone. Have a great day!

Carolina’s Answer

Updated São Paulo, Brazil

Hello! In addition to what Sarah has said, I would strongly recommend you to open a profile and search for your main areas of interest / people of reference on Twitter and LinkedIn to build your digital network in a consistent and strong way. Those are platforms where you can meet people who can inspire you as well as potentially open you a professional door some time in the future. Good luck!

Updated
Carolina, I agree with you, and through Twitter, I have landed an internship, which was awesome. A professor I had liked a tweet which popped up on my timeline, I commented and boom I was hired a few days later. I haven't been able to repeat, though. Thank you for your answer, and have a great day!