Networking isn’t just for ‘grown ups’

I had never really believed in the mysterious power of networking that I had been preached about. It seemed to me like it was for people who were either already ridiculously talented, or just plain lucky.  As a third year student currently studying abroad in Vancouver, I was feeling the pressure and impending doom of final year, so I finally plucked up the courage and gave it a shot.

Although my networking story didn’t go exactly to plan, this certainly isn’t a horror story. Yes, it was awkward and yes it was scary, but the end result proved all those networking preachers right.

Meggan in Vancouver

All fired up to make an impression, I went to a marketing careers panel with Account Directors from all different marketing sectors in Vancouver talking about how they got into the industry, and tips and advice for students. After listening to the panel, one sector caught my eye in particular: legal marketing. I had worked briefly with a legal client at a PR internship I did over the summer, so I saw this as a great opportunity to make a connection.

After my friend gave me a pep talk consisting of ‘talk about them but talk about yourself too’, I introduced myself and got chatting about the presentations. I mentioned my previous work, and my interest in exploring legal marketing. Although the director had nothing for me, she suggested we exchanged cards and she could pass on my information to any associates that might be looking. I got some business cards printed off the internet, and trust me, they work. It leaves a lasting impression upon employers, especially amongst a sea of other eager students.

The next day, we connected on Linkedin, and I sent a message saying it was great to have met, and to keep me in mind if she hears of any opportunities. At this stage, I’d put any hopes of a busy Account Director taking time to find me an internship out of the window.

Around 6 weeks go by, and I receive a mysterious message from the director. She tells me that she now has a need for an intern, and to give me a call to discuss it. After some back and forth with answer machines, we finally get a chance to talk. She ended up offering me a position for at least 6 months, or until I had to leave Vancouver. However, the position required me to do a work/study program, and I later found out that I would not qualify for that as an exchange student. Oh. So, you’re telling me that I’m being offered a paid, 6 month internship in a field I’m interested in, but I can’t have it? Well that’s rather annoying.

So, despite not being able to actually take the job, I’m still chalking that up as a success. But more importantly, it proved to me networking actually works. The networking preachers are right.

If that’s got you thinking about trying out networking for yourself, go for it! Take advantage of the events the Careers Network puts on. There’s a huge range of employers involved at UoB, and the opportunity to network your way to an internship that’s not on the market. Networking isn’t just for grown ups, the super successful, or the lucky ones – it can work for you too.

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About careersbham

Student Engagement Officer for Careers Network University of Birmingham

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