Written by Dana Faught, Recruitment and Admissions Manager
Everyone has heard the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” As overused as this cliché is, it couldn’t be more true, especially in Washington, D.C. Networking at your summer internship is the best way to make connections that can lead to a job after graduation. Here are a few tips that will help you maximize your networking opportunities this summer:
There is no downside to introducing yourself or asking someone to grab a cup of coffee, but there is an unlimited upside! If you show interest in someone’s work, they tend to be receptive and willing to help. Make sure that the people in your office are aware of your post-graduation aspirations. Even if their career doesn’t exactly line up with what you want to do, chances are they know someone whose does.
Attend Outside Meetings and Educational Events
Connect with people outside of your office by asking to attend outside meetings, client site visits, or fundraisers. You can hear from professionals on topics relevant to your internship and career interests by attending seminars, conferences, and luncheon speakers. DC area think tanks also offer free events nearly every day of the week. To find information on events that may be of interest to you check out DC Linktank, a great online resource detailing professional opportunities that are taking place in Washington, D.C.
Leave Something Behind /Take Something with You
When you meet someone for the first time make sure to exchange contact information so that you can continue to network and form a relationship with that person. An easy and professional way to provide someone with your contact information is to do so through email. In DC most interns do not have business cards so don’t worry about people expecting to receive one from you.
After making a new contact following up with them is essential. The follow-up is the most important and often the most neglected part of networking. Since many people fail to follow-up with their contacts, you can distinguish yourself by reaching out to remind that person that you are interested in maintaining a professional relationship with them. After any meeting or networking conversation send a thank you note. Handwritten notes are best, and be sure to mention something specific from your discussion to really grab their attention.