Socialize with as many people as you can
Start with class then work your way through campus clubs and student organizations. Don’t limit yourself by sticking close to your circle of friends you made freshman year in the dorm or your sorority sisters. Jump into the deep end of the pool by mixing with new people. How can you do that? By reaching out to new groups of people. This could be organizations related to your major and/or areas you’d be interested in working in after graduation; like a business club, a marketing organization or a speaker event hosted by your campus’ career center.
Additionally, you could sign up for events that grow your skills while stretching your socializing capabilities; like a hackathon, engineering society, or toastmasters. Never underestimate who you could meet!
Initiate the conversation
Now that you’re at an event take full advantage of it. Don’t sit in the back and text all your friends that aren’t there, get up and start mingling. This can be as simple as walking up to another member, professor or the speaker herself, sticking out your hand and introducing yourself.
The first impression you make should be to establish rapport, not make a request. Don’t start with “Hi, I need an internship this summer.” Instead, start with something small, but sincere, such as “Hi I’m Michael. I really enjoyed the point you made about how consumer preference dictates market demand, did your research always prove this theory?” People love it when they feel they have been heard. Picking one or two things out of a presentation and reiterating back to them makes an instant connection. If you are genuinely trying to connect with someone, you’ll never go wrong.
Follow-up after making a connection
Why spend all that time locating and attending events if you do nothing with those connections once you have them? The key to growing your network is following up once you’ve met someone. This could be done through text, email or by sending a LinkedIn connection request. If you haven’t created a LinkedIn account, stop everything and do that now! Even if your profile is basic and you don’t have any experience, you can start to build connections immediately.
Once you’ve connected make the point of giving more to your network than taking from your network. This means contributing! This can be adding content to LinkedIn, connecting people you met to each other, and recommending or endorsing connections with proven skills. Remember to be an advocate for others, so when the time comes they will advocate for you.
Do some company investigation
Another bonus of attending events and making connections is that as a college student you begin to get to know yourself more, understand what you’re passionate about and what you’re not. All of these events and people expose you to more opportunity and you’ll begin to better know what you want to do post-graduation. Interning with the government, a non-profit or at a company like Chegg is naturally the next step in the process to gaining exposure to a possible career path.
A great tool to better learn about possible career paths is Chegg’s Career Center. Once you know approximately which career path(s) interest you, begin to research companies that you can see yourself interning at. Start researching by googling brands that you love, shop at and use. Research their corporate website, their reviews on Glassdoor and LinkedIn site. Keep an Excel sheet recording your research and take special note of when they offer internships and how to apply.
Grow your network
Begin to branch out even more by connecting via LinkedIn with a professional aunt, cousin or alumni who are outside of your college network. This will expand your first, second and third connections on LinkedIn, making it easier to connect with more people in the future. You’ll also come up more often in recruiters’ searches.
Another viable option is to attend a career fair on campus, live and in person. This may seem like a scary prospect, but all those events you’ve been attending will have laid a nice foundation for you to know how to socialize in a professional setting. Make sure you talk to the recruiters at booths of companies you’ve researched and are interested in interning at. Take note of companies you’ve never heard of or never thought of working at before and research them when you get home. Get recruiters’ business cards at the fair and connect with him/her after the fair. A friendly note post-career fair is a great way of getting on someone’s radar. Don’t be discouraged if one fair doesn’t lead to an internship, keep getting out there, keep connecting and eventually you will be noticed!
Today’s post was written by Chegg’s University Recruiting and Intern Program Manager, Lora Kyle. Lora has an undergraduate degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from San Francisco State University and a Master’s in International Relations from Middlesex University, London. She has over eight years of professional experience in Human Resources, including a tenure as Driscoll’s Global Campus Program Manager.