Today's guest blog post is written by Justin Rajah, a Summer Marketing Intern at Xactly. During the school year Justin attends California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where he is studying Business Administration. While he is in school, he is a member of student government and his fraternity’s executive board. In his spare time, you can find him on the volleyball court or at the movies! As interns, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to thoroughly impress everyone in the office. While that is a goal to strive for, we need to remember that we are human and we are here to learn and take in everything throughout the summer. Having an internship is an incredible opportunity. It is a time to absorb every project, all the information given, and experience what it’s like to work in the corporate world. Even though there are expectations in an internship, they don’t always measure up to the reality, in a good way. The people we meet and the people we learn from are a great resource to hold on to as you go off into the workforce. One of the greatest things about an internship is the advantage of being able to network with tons of professionals in all different departments. As students, we are constantly stressing over our studies and making sure we ace every test. But come on, we all know deep down that a huge part of making it in the 'real world' is who you know. Networking is a huge part of your internship. Networking isn't just about brown nosing and trying to be the executive's favorite. There is a foundation and constant up keep that is needed, and most important is an interest in learning and showing your genuine self.
3 Things to Keep in Mind When Networking as an Intern:
1. Research When you start your internship, you must research the company. This means looking in to the industry they are in, what they sell, and who they are as a brand. When I accepted my internship at Xactly, I had to read up and get information about the company. Xactly specializes in incentive compensation as sales Performance Management software. The company’s goal is to change the world of incentive compensation. Being able to have background knowledge of the company you’re working for, allows you to communicate and ask questions with directors and executives. Which leads me to my next piece of advice… 2. Meet Executive Staff Once you have a basic understanding of your company, you need to introduce yourself to upper management. Make yourself visible and extend yourself. As an intern, how much or how little you get out of your internship is in your hands. Reach out and put yourself out of your comfort zone. Take a look at UC Davis's Internship and Career Center page; they do a great job explaining How to Introduce Yourself. Once you have introduced yourself, remember, you are one of many employees or even many interns. Making sure you continue to say "hello" and having conversations with directors and executives is important. I sometimes even find myself walking around the building hoping to bump into them. 3. Show Gratitude When Networking Showing gratitude is something that you should do without saying it. As an intern, I have constant questions. I want to make sure I am doing the project right, and I’m providing as much benefit for the company as they are for me. Don’t be afraid to ask, “how do you do this again?” “I’m sorry I didn’t understand that, can you explain it again?” People are taking time out of their day, to help you and a genuine “thank you” or if you want to go above and beyond, a Thank you card is a great way to show your appreciation. Bonus Tip: Be Outgoing when Networking! Try to make yourself known. When you bump into someone, put out your hand, introduce yourself. These directors and executives are giving you a chance to work for their company. The least we can do is to show them how we appreciate this opportunity to work in this company.
A recap of ways to build your network as an Intern:
- Make sure you research the company & have a basic knowledge of what they do.
- Build up the confidence to introduce yourself to everyone.
- Continue the conversation with management and executives.
- Show appreciation and thank them for the opportunity.
Now go off and build those networks!