Networking has had a bad reputation. Often times, people misunderstand it as an opportunistic practice lacking authenticity. Some people see it as unnecessary small talk and some imagine it is about begging for favours. While others think it is merely exchanging information with strangers.

People have different personalities, and while networking comes naturally to some, introverts may find it extremely draining and intimidating. Networking skills are, however, crucial to anyone intending to start or advance their career. It may seem awkward at first, but the benefits of networking go beyond your career progression.

What is networking?

Networking involves establishing and developing long-term relations of mutual benefit with people you meet in different places. Whether you are part of a sports league, attending a conference or in the queue to order a morning coffee, you can make a lifetime connection.

There are always networking opportunities all around for those who are intentional about creating networks. You do not need to register for every seminar or engage in several professional associations to meet new people. In this smartphone era, one needs to keep gadgets away to interact and connect with people intentionally.

Importance of networking

Interacting with people from different professions, nationalities, and cultures gives you a broader scope of life. Your open-mindedness increases every time you socialise with people from diverse backgrounds, ages and points of view. Another advantage of networking is that this open-mindedness and understanding teaches you to become a better team player.

Apart from broadening an individual’s view of life, there are many benefits of networking. Think about it: networking is an opportunity to practice starting conversations, communicating clearly and learning about people around you. It’s a no-brainer! These interactions will increase your confidence, and you will no longer feel anxious about starting a conversation with strangers.

With pressures like deadlines and targets, experts stress the importance of social networking as a stress reliever. Meeting people who are going through similar experiences or have overcome obstacles you may be facing is always a great learning opportunity making you a better individual.

An Undeniable Benefit of Networking

One of the undeniable  benefits of networking is the impact on your business or career. Experts agree that success has a direct link to your networking skills. This is why the most connected individuals end up as the most successful. Investing in both personal and professional relationships pays back throughout your career course. Through interacting with people, you will keep a pulse on the job market, stay in touch with current trends, and meet prospective clients, partners, and mentors. Besides developing and improving your skillset, networking gives you access to the resources necessary to foster your career development.

A positive word about you from a relevant source to your potential employer works like magic. People are also inclined to trust referrals for business and service providers than engage strangers, especially for delicate and time-sensitive projects.

How to start networking

Sleeping as an introvert and waking up as an extrovert is impossible. You cannot, therefore, expect to get up and start initiating exciting conversations with people you just met if that is not your nature. Excellent communication skills take time to build.

Since there is no “one style fits all” networking rule, different tactics work for different people. To determine what works best for you, one may have to try various strategies to find out what suits you best. Introverts, for example, are safer with one-on-one conversations or smaller meetups, as crowds intimidate them.

Complimenting someone’s outfit or accessories while waiting for your coffee, train, or service is all it takes to start a conversation, develop a relationship and network.

How to network successfully

Implementing your most comfortable approach will fast-track your networking goals. When you have identified your best strategy and networking style, consider places and events to network.

While traditional cocktail parties offer excellent networking avenues, there are many other opportunities to connect. Family events, friends’ weddings, graduation events, or even birthdays are some occasions one can use to network. Capitalize on your circles, like family, colleagues, and friends from school and university as you expand outwards.  Attending any work events and seminars will help you mingle with people that you are most comfortable within your circle. Sports clubs and cultural groups are other options to explore.

Volunteering your skills is another brilliant way to grow your network as you learn and also helps you give back to the community. You will not only learn about available opportunities but also get exposed to diverse career paths.

Networking means to think outside the box

Networking is not just about receiving or asking; the best way to connect is by giving. You may not have a solution if someone comes to you for help, but you can link them to a person who can meet their needs.

It pays to think outside the box and beyond the corporate cocktails when thinking about networking. Every gathering can offer networking opportunities if utilized well, since getting to know new people is a natural event. Therefore, networking is not limited to formal events or specific circumstances but rather can take place anywhere and anytime.

Nurturing new relationships from networking is crucial. Just like an interview, following up with any new connection is of utmost importance. Start by sending a LinkedIn request with a personalized message and tagging those in your network to articles that would interest them. Something like “It was great meeting you at the X event” will remind your new contact who you are.

Conclusion

One of the obvious benefits of networking is fast-tracking your career growth and improving your communication skills. Having a good reputation with a wide range of people will increase your chances of getting referrals and job opportunities, so don’t restrict yourself to traditional networking circles. You never know who someone may be able to connect you to or what you might learn.

Take the time to find the right type of networking strategy for you and focus on making it a positive experience. In doing so, networking will become less of a hassle and more of a fun opportunity to improve yourself. Trust us, you won’t regret learning how to network well.

Have any additional networking tips to share? Let us know below!

It’s not a stretch to say internships have become indispensable. The competition for jobs has never been stiffer. When making hiring decisions, Capital Placement notes, employers will lean heavily towards students who have at least some internship experience under their belts. 

So, what does an intern do exactly?

Contrary to popular belief, completing an internship isn’t easy. If you think internships are about fetching coffee for everyone and generally riding on the team’s coattails, toss your expectations out the window. Modern intern roles – even the support kind – are as taxing and responsibility-ridden as full-time jobs!

It’s important you enter your internship with the right mindset. If you don’t know what to expect from your internship role, you’ll be better prepared and know what you need to do to succeed. Also, carrying out your intern responsibilities successfully will assist you in building up a potent skillset. 

What is an intern? 

An intern is a trainee who has signed on with an organization for a brief period. An intern’s goal is to gain work experience, occasionally some university credit, and always an overall feel for the industry they’re interning in. 

Internships may be paid, partially paid, or unpaid. The engagement period may range from a handful of weeks up to 2 years. With longer-term internships, you’ll almost always be compensated in some way. The compensation may include a monthly wage, accommodation, travel expenses, and a food allowance. 

Many companies require you to complete an internship with them before they even consider you for a full-time role.     

What does an intern do?

So what does an intern do exactly? That depends on the industry in question and the kind of internship you’ve signed up for. Research internships come with a different set of roles and responsibilities than, say, an internship geared toward easing you into a full-time role. 

An intern is primarily a support role – at least in the beginning. When you join up, your main job will be to assist, learn, and grow. After you’ve settled in, you’ll be expected to pull your own weight. 

Here’s a general overview of the work you can expect to do as an intern:     

1. Assist in day-to-day tasks

As an intern, don’t expect to spearhead a critical project anytime soon. But that’s by no means a bad thing. You’ll be groomed to spearhead projects in the future. Your boss will give you general errands to educate you on to the ins-and-outs of the organisation, to gauge your general skill set, and also to bring your skills up to par.

Here are some day-to-day intern roles and their responsibilities:   

  • Performing clerical duties: It’s almost a guarantee you’ll be taking memos, maintaining files, organising, sorting, creating PowerPoint presentations, drafting reports, and the like.
  • Managing social media and emails: You may be asked to handle the company’s social media accounts, write emails to customers, talk to clients on the phone, and similar duties. 
  • Event handling: Interns are often asked to oversee the scheduling of appointments, organising conference rooms, and taking care of the food and drink.   
  • Research: Interns fresh from a university education have a great deal of up-to-date knowledge. Your organisation may put this knowledge to good use by placing you in a research role. You may be asked to assist in streamlining an organisation’s work process in some way.

2. Learn and gain experience 

You’ll be expected to learn as much as you possibly can while you work, regardless of the kind of internship you’ve signed up for. What kind of learning will you be doing? It can be broken down into two main areas:  

  • Picking up hard skills: Hard skills are the technical skills you need to carry out your intern responsibilities, and eventually job duties, successfully. Examples include learning how to operate a computer program, drafting a company report, handling the company inventory, and maintaining the company database.    
  • Brushing up on your soft skills: Soft skills are as important as hard skills. Soft skills are all about your ability to relate to people and building mutually-beneficial relationships. Examples are talking, listening, conflict handling, time management, and development of empathy. You need soft skills to manage clients, not to mention get along with your bosses and colleagues.   

3. Job shadow

Job shadowing has become the norm recently. As the name suggests, the practice involves “shadowing” someone as they perform their daily duties, observing their activities, and learning what the role entails via indirect experience. This is an especially popular practice in hands-on fields like engineering and healthcare.  

How does this work exactly? When you join the organisation, you may be assigned a mentor. The first few weeks, you may be tasked with following them around. They’ll show you the ropes while they work. You may be asked to assist with light tasks here and there. You’ll be encouraged to ask questions. Eventually, you’ll be trained to take over the position and of intern roles.  

4. Take on an increasing amount of responsibility 

As time goes by, expect to shoulder an increasing amount of responsibility. Initially, they’ll gauge your current skill set and reliability with “grunt” work. As you prove yourself to your colleagues and bosses, you’ll be entrusted with more crucial tasks. The better you perform, the more the responsibilities you’ll be given. 

When you join as an intern, it’s always smart to give it your all. The work may feel uninspiring initially. That’s understandable. But if you can demonstrate enthusiasm and perform without complaining, you’ll slowly but surely work your way to the good stuff. 

Interns who really impress their bosses can expect glowing recommendations, if not an offer for full-time work.   

5. Network 

While networking isn’t an official requirement as such, it might as well be. Networking involves building relationships with your bosses, colleagues, and customers and clients. You’ll need the backing and support of people in places to build a successful career. Also, building good relationships with customers is always good for the organisation.

Here are some examples of the kind of networking interns do: 

  • Finding a mentor: Mentors act as anchor roles for interns. If you find a good one, you can follow in their footsteps and build a successful career just like your mentor. 
  • Forming a peer support group: Interning is hard. Finding a peer support group who is going through all the ups and downs with you will make it much more enjoyable for everyone involved. 
  • Getting in with bosses and coworkers: Interns who can build strong individual bonds with their coworkers and bosses become a part of the “family”. You’re much more likely to be offered a full-time role at the company down the road. 

6. Make a career call 

Finally, usually at the tail-end of your internship, you have to make a career-defining decision: continue in the field you interned in or try your hand at something else entirely. 

You got a taste of what working in your industry full-time would be like. Did you love the experience and can’t wait to dive back in again? Or do you feel you’d be happier doing something else?

Final Thoughts

Internships are usually short-term. They’re smaller investments in time and energy than full-time jobs. Consequently, they’re perfect opportunities to explore your options. You deserve work that’s fulfilling. If necessary, you can sign up for a different but related internship role elsewhere to see if you’re happier there. 

Your internship is going to shape the course of your career. It’ll assist you in acquiring the skills you need to perform up-to-par when you’re hired full-time. It’s essential you use your internship as the training opportunity it represents. 

You’re sure to have a bright future if you work hard, build positive relationships, and remain grateful for the internship opportunity. Capital Placement can assist you in securing a life-changing internship opportunity abroad, in line with your talents, skill-set, and career goals. Reach out to us now!   

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Julia Hurtado

Julia Hurtado

Having spent an entire summer dedicated to travelling abroad, Julia now focuses on helping other students experience life outside their home country. As an American now working in London, Julia enjoys sharing advice on interning abroad, sipping tea (with 2 sugars, 1 milk please) and reading in her spare time.

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