To the Internship and Beyond: Networking as a Student Intern

Over the past summer and for a short period during winter break, I had the amazing opportunity to intern for the corporate communications department of a leading global hospitality company. I was blessed with experience, opportunity, and most prominently, a fit of anxiety. Upon finishing the internship, my head reeled with doubt: what if I never get another internship? Is one enough? What if they forget about me when I leave and no one ever hires me again?

In an effort to reassure myself, I’ve become a networking aficionado. I’m convinced that networking is half the battle when it comes to finding a job—especially in a public relations or communications field. I’ve come up with a few networking tips that have helped me keep in touch with coworkers and classmates, communicate with professionals, and even score the ever-elusive next internship.

Make your presence known, inside and out:

Throughout the duration of my internship, I worked to make myself visible. With the help of my boss and her team, I was permitted to sit in on meetings, write for both internal and external forums, and submit my own work to upper-level associates. By attending meetings with other associates or external vendors, I was able to introduce myself to a variety of people who work for a variety of fields. It helps that they were also able to recognize my name from the various articles, blogs and announcements that I wrote and submitted to supervisors who became familiar with my work.

In hindsight, I can see that such personal networking can be accredited to the team I work with, who put me on assignments that required me to contact many people throughout the company, causing me to be proactive in getting my name heard!

Give a little of yourself away:

One enormous recommendation I have for networking through your internship is the traditional business card.  Today, business cards may seem trite when compared to our social media networking, technology 2.0 habits of communicating our information, but they can actually be quite useful. You can order them online (they’re inexpensive) or use your nifty PRSSA-provided cards (which also demonstrate what an active PR pre-professional you are).

During my last week I handed out business cards with my contact information to people I had met throughout the company, along with hand-written thank you notes to those who I had worked with extensively. Most people were really impressed by my thoughtfulness, and when I returned to work over my winter break, I noticed that one of my bosses still had my note, and my business card was tacked onto her wall next to her phone!

Actually keep in touch:

It may feel like you’re being a nuisance, but keeping in touch with your past colleagues, bosses, or business partners can be really important. Create a LinkedIn profile, and connect with people you met throughout your internship, classmates, and even teachers. You’ll be able to upload your resume and achievements as well as receive recommendations from people you’ve worked for. Social media, when used appropriately, can be a valuable channel for networking.

Another way I kept in touch (and still do) with my bosses was through email. Since I knew I was returning to work over the winter, every few months or so throughout the fall semester, I emailed one of my bosses asking about what new projects they were working on so that I could keep up to date.

I also occasionally emailed them questions I had about communications-related schoolwork. Or, if I had been working on something particularly relevant to my internship while I was at school or had important updates, I would send it to them to show them how I am improving my skills, and thank them for helping me pave the way. For instance, I was working on a presentation about social media, which is something that my boss does often, and I emailed her for suggestions or notes.

Note about the emailing: Just remember that they are professionals, and very busy, so keep your emails occasional, concise, and polite, and gauge exactly how much they need to know. If you maintain a friendly professional relationship, they’ll be impressed by your persistency and desire to improve, and you get a chance to remind them how amazing you are!

Written by Gabriella Chiera.

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