If I knew what I know now about how to get a job, I would have found one a lot quicker.
In my mind, interning as much as possible was the sure way to stand out and get a job right out of college. I didn’t think I would have any trouble finding a job (even in this economy) with seven internships completed before even receiving my diploma. However, I should have been focusing more on developing relationships and maintaining them with the people I worked with, which I did with some, but not nearly enough.
What I finally realized was that it’s not what you learn when you’re an intern, but rather who you meet. If you work with someone who appreciates and likes the work you do, you have a reference for life if you make the effort to stay in touch. According to BusinessWeek, approximately 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking. Therefore, networking is the key in today’s competitive job market.
So instead of putting so much focus on what I was learning, I should have been putting a little more time into networking. With that said, I should have started building and maintaining relationships with people from the beginning, so when I eventually started looking for a career, I had a huge network to turn to.
With platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, staying in touch couldn’t be easier. Everyone you have ever worked with is always just a click away, no matter where their career takes them. This kind of accessibility is great because they’re right there when you need help finding a job or need a reference.
I’m not saying internships are pointless or not worth your time. I’m saying that as an intern, you need to focus on developing relationships rather than how fast you can update an Excel spread sheet.
To borrow LinkedIn’s slogan, the most important lesson that you can take away from any working experience is that ‘Relationships Matter.’