It’s often said, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In reality it’s both—it’s important to be a qualified and capable candidate, and it’s important to have connections. Networking can go a long way, and so far, this has proven true for me. Here are some of things I learned through networking my way to my first internships.
Be enthusiastic about unexpected opportunities.
My first internship was with a local farmers market the summer before my senior year of high school. During the internship, I interviewed and wrote brief biographies of select vendors for the farmers market website. I got this internship not by reaching out to the farmers market myself (although that wouldn’t have been a bad idea) but through one of my classmates. During the prior school year we worked closely together in a volunteer club, and one day he texted me asking if I’d be interested in a summer internship. One of the women running the upcoming farmers market was a family friend of his, and had asked him if he knew of anyone available and willing to help out over the summer. I told him I was interested and soon I was exchanging emails with one of the directors of the farmers market, discussing which vendors to profile and sharing ideas for the blog.
View work experience opportunities as a chance to grow and advance.
Next year, I’ll be at school in a new state, and I already have a lead on a possible internship. This past year, I became friends with a girl in one of my classes. After hearing where I was going to school, her mother told her that a friend from college is now the editor of the main newspaper in the town where my school is located. Her mother asked her if I’d like to connect with the editor to see if I could do some work for the newspaper. She warned me that it was a long shot, but I hope to make the connection and to have an opportunity to gain some real-world experience working for a newspaper. It’s an opportunity I probably would not have the chance to get if it weren’t for my friend’s mother.
Look to people close to you.
I’m currently interning at Vault.com, where a relative of mine has been employed for some time. I was fortunate enough to find out about the internship by her hearing that some of her coworkers were interested in summer interns. My relative passed that message along to me, and I was able to secure an internship with Vault.com. Especially for young people, asking parents or relatives about internship opportunities at their work could be a good gateway to your first internship.
With that said, it’s impractical to only count on networking when job searching. Frequent the career center at your school, and take advantage of the resources and opportunities that your school has to offer. Check bulletin boards at local coffee shops for job listings. Don’t be afraid to reach out directly. Networking isn’t everything. Again, it’s also “what you know.” Remember that once you get your opportunity, it’s up to you to take it from there and prove yourself a valuable asset for whomever you may be working. Be responsible and reliable. Carry yourself well, be kind, be personable, and put yourself out there. Be open to new experiences, and to new people. You never know where new opportunities may arise.
Rachel is an Editorial Intern at Vault.com. With interests in journalism and law, she is excited to contribute to Vault.com before she heads off to the University of Vermont this fall.
Follow Vault on Instagram.
Want to be found by top employers? Upload Your Resume
Join Gold to Unlock Company Reviews