Personal Experience: Networking

Summer is just a few finals away, and we all know what that means: sleeping in until noon every day and then lying poolside until dinner.

It’s funny how a nine-to-five job can mess up those plans of chilling all day, every day.

I’m talking about a job. I have worked during the summer since my first year of high school and would encourage anyone in college to get a job and make some money during the summer.

I would go even further to encourage college students to get not just any job, but an internship.

I am a marketing major and wanted to get into the business field to make sure that this was something I would really want to do as a career. I applied to a few places and got a call from Lanxess Corp., a global chemical company. I started one week after the last final of my junior year. I worked full time and got a taste of what it’s like to work a steady schedule of Monday- Friday, nine to five.

I had previously worked at a country club where my hours and shifts varied from week to week. Sometimes I worked mornings, and sometimes I worked nights.

Compared to my job at the country club, my internship carried a lot more responsibility. I worked in marketing and sales, which meant that I was constantly making sales calls to potential customers, doing market research, updating databases, creating customer PowerPoint presentations and providing any other type of market support that was needed.

I also spent time working in customer service, and towards the end of the summer, I even spent time with finance and crunched numbers for a week.

It was an incredible, well-rounded business experience, and amidst all of my duties, I had one job that I focused on the most – networking. Every time I went to get a coffee, I would stop in to talk with the CEO as long as his door was open. He liked updates on my internship and what I was learning, etc. I would go visit Public Relations and chat with them about my upcoming senior year and my hopes to get a good job afterwards. They were in charge of hiring, and some of them gave me their cards, telling me to contact them near graduation. I was always willing to grab lunch with my boss or anyone else in the department.

My main goal was to get to know people inside the company. I wanted to learn from them and hear about their experiences in the business world. I wanted advice and wanted to start building my business network.

Through my internship, I got to know a CEO of a global company who is now one of my references. I also became close with the director of sales. We used to catch up on sports, and he still shoots me e-mails when his beloved Chicago White Sox win a game.

My internship is the first thing companies recognize when they interview me, and they are always impressed with real experience. Waiting tables, cutting grass, etc. are good for cash flow, but at some point you have to get an internship based on your major.

Not only will an internship give you great experience and a great opportunity to network in your field but also will give you a taste of your career.

My encouragement to college students is to intern in the field they are studying. Although you might be desk-side instead of poolside, it is a necessary sacrifice, and you won’t regret making it. Get an internship – it pays!

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