The coronavirus pandemic stopped thousands of college students from getting an internship over the summer. Many job and internship sites were forced to not take on any interns due to financial reasons, health concerns, or not being able to give their interns the proper work and experience that would be beneficial for them. I was one of the thousands of college students who were not able to secure an internship over this past summer. I applied to plenty of internships on Handshake and Indeed, however I was not lucky enough to secure one. As a college student, I know how important it is to have internships, and experiences that can help you decide your career path. However, I did not let not getting an internship hold me back for this summer, I decided this is a perfect time to develop my professional network.
Like many students, networking, especially in person is hard for me. But I do understand how important having a professional network is to me and my career, so here are some things that I did to improve my professional connections and how you can too:
- Made connections through LinkedIn with old supervisors and co-workers
If you do not have a LinkedIn account, I highly suggest making one. Having a LinkedIn account has helped me keep in contact with people that I worked with, people that I go to school with, and more. It allows them to see what you have been doing professionally and also potential employers. During the pandemic, I made sure to connect with people that I met through webinars, old supervisors, and made sure to add a note reminding them who I am.
- Take advantage of virtual meetings
If you are a shy person, you should take advantage of a time like now to make these new connections. For me, I am way more comfortable with meeting through zoom then in person because I am able to have notes with different topics and questions that I want to speak about during the meeting. You should also research the person to have focused questions for the person you are having a meeting with and then add them on LinkedIn after the meeting is done.
- Asked my current professional network for help and advice
Since I was on a break for so long I decided to use my time to get in contact with the different people that I know in my professional network and first update them on what I have been doing, and second see if they know anyone that can help me in my journey. This was very successful for me because one of the people in my network knew of a woman who is in the career field that I want to be in and I was able to have an informal interview with her.
These were just a few ways in which I developed my professional network during the pandemic, and how you can begin to develop yours now. Connections and networking is a big part of getting experience, advice and jobs or internships and it is important that you use your professional network as well.