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Making the Most of your Network during your Internship Search

October 5, 2009

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When speaking with student and graduate job seekers, Career Services staff members will often emphasize the importance of networking to learn about job leads or to make contact with someone who may be able to help you get your foot in the door with a specific company.  Using your network to assist you with locating an internship sponsor is just as important as it is in your job search.

Who to Include in Your Network

The first step in your internship search is to develop a list of contacts you can approach regarding your internship. Your network should include anyone who can assist you with your internship search. It can include past and present co-workers, bosses, friends with similar interests, colleagues from business associations, alumni from your university, or acquaintances you have met via online networking services. Your network can also include family, neighbors, and anyone who might have a connection that will help.

New to Networking?

If you are new to the area or your chosen field, you may feel your network isn’t as large as you would like it to be. In this case, it is important to be just as proactive about developing your network as it is during other steps in your internship search. One thing you can do is  attend a professional networking event in your area. In larger cities, there are often many general business groups that will offer monthly networking opportunities. There may also be industry-specific professional groups that will hold events designed for individuals to connect with others in a specific field. In smaller cities or towns, general networking events are often held by the local Chamber of Commerce, so going on the Chamber website is a great place to start. You can also view organizations that belong to the Chamber who may be able to sponsor your internship. Building your network can also occur through your involvement in social networking sites. The most popular site for professional networking online is LinkedIn. Creating a profile and connecting with others is easy. Just make sure any information you post about yourself on the web is professional. You never know who may be viewing it.

What Your Network Can Do For You

Over 80% of job seekers say that their network has helped with their job and/or internship search. Networking can help with more than job leads. They can provide referrals to or insider information about companies you might be interested in working for. This is especially important during your internship search. Reach out to individuals in your network who work in your desired field; one of their employers may be able to provide an internship opportunity for you. It is also important to put the word out to your network that you are looking for an internship. You may be surprised how many people know someone who knows someone who is able to help you obtain an internship. Don’t be shy—now is the time to be vocal about your qualifications and your career goals.

Holly and Jennifer

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