Early Career, Mentoring, Professional

Shaking a Hand & Doing the Legwork

It is an exciting time of year – school is in full swing and many students are now looking forward to internship opportunities, and building that valuable professional network. The question I hear over and over again though from students is HOW do I go about these things? Networking and relationship building is a fine art. It is something that takes practice, fine-tuning and excellent mentorship.

In my Executive Director role DT Belleville, I experienced the good the bad and the ugly from students getting in touch with the organization. Here are two “don’t’s” and a “do” I want to share for your learning experiences:

Don’t #1

I had a student get in touch with me about my time at a PR agency. He had stated he was looking for a contact from me for a possible internship. Having had the opportunity to introduce himself in person days before at an event, he didn’t take the opportunity. I would imagine if I gave him my contact the first line of the email would have said something like, “Erica suggested I get in touch with you,” which implies that I’ve recommended or endorsed him. Once I explained to him the path I took (in great detail) to achieve my internship at this PR agency, his response was “well, I live out of town, so it’s hard for me to get to Toronto.”

Okay students. Don’t contact someone requesting a contact, and not be willing to put in the time and effort that they have.

Don’t #2

We had another student show up in our office one day asking if he was in the Build Belleville office. After informing him that he was in the wrong place, he asked to speak with a specific member of the Build Belleville team. I proceeded to inform him that he was indeed looking for the Build Belleville office, and gave him the address. Pausing for a second, he then says, “do you guys take interns? Because I’m in *insert program* and looking for an internship.”

Don’t come into the wrong location, ask for the wrong person and THEN have the audacity to ask me for an internship. *head shake*


Luckily we had a few really awesome experiences too. So, let me tell you the amazing efforts of our BDIA intern Christien. He took the time to do a job shadow with us during his time in the Business, Sales and Marketing program at Loyalist College. During his job shadow day, he had the opportunity to sit in on the first meeting of the Quinte Craft event that took place in March 2016; excited to get involved, he asked if he would able to volunteer during the event. Christien then showed up on time, ready to work and gave 110% efforts for the whole day. At the conclusion of the event, we shook hands, and confirmed that he would indeed have an internship with the BDIA.

To top it off Christien was an incredible worker – he was driven to learn as much as possible, as well as apply his strengths in bettering our establishment. This was the perfect balance of intro, networking, and successful internship! ????

Fortunately, I have had the ability to talk over my experiences with many undergrads and college students to explain to them the art of networking. How I’ve researched positions and people; How I’ve reached out and had coffee dates to explore opportunities; How I’ve practiced the fine art of the “networking dance.” Remember that practice makes perfect! If my “older self” could tell my “younger self” anything – it would be to take advantage of the career services at your school and attend alumni events. These people are here to help you, and you should take full advantage!

Good luck, happy internship hunting and networking. Remember, shake those hands and do the legwork, and you’ll make out just fine.

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