Written by: by Hannah Kay
I hate networking. I think all of my friends at Kelley could tell you that, because I’ve told them so at least once. It feels artificial and strange to me, like I’m feeling my way through the dark with traps around every corner.
It’s not really so bad, but during the school year, it always felt that way. Somehow, I networked enough to land a great internship. Once the internship actually arrived, I was surprised to find out that I was expected to set goals for myself for the summer. Most could be modeled after the goals for the department, but I needed at least one personal goal. I knew that even though I had the internship, I would still need to do a fair amount of networking in order to get the job offer, and I knew how I felt about networking. So I decided to make that my personal goal, setting on paper specific goals for networking so I couldn't avoid it.
(MBA Finance Major & MA in Russian and East European Studies, Class of 2015)
Networking within a company that has already given me an internship in a leadership program where networking is strongly encouraged seems suddenly like a logical step in the process instead of an idea that makes the introvert in me quake. I’ve set a goal and I’m working toward it. Every week I’m meeting with different people within my department to get to know them, what they’re doing, and what they’re hoping to do once they graduate the leadership program. They’re great resources for contacts within the company, both graduates of the leadership program but also upper level management.
I’m also realizing that networking takes other shapes as well, some more tied to the company culture than others. I’ve gone kayaking and played volleyball with coworkers. An IU alum is hosting dinner at his lake house in a few weeks for interns and alum, and I am very excited. A few weeks after I started, the company had an intern immersion day where we were introduced to the company and other interns through speakers and competitions. I certainly gained a new appreciation for engineers as we set about making a fan-powered car. My department took an entire Friday to enjoy a networking event with leadership program alumni that consisted of riding and driving cars around test tracks. Before that day, I don’t think I’d ever truly appreciated the joy of working for a car company or seen so many beaming smiles at work
|Kayaking with Coworkers can be fun|
Getting to know the people and culture also matter a lot to me now. I’m working hard in order to get an offer at the end of the summer, but I’m also evaluating if this is where I want to be in a year and in five years. Conversations are easier now that I have an understanding of the company from the inside, and I’m bringing value to the organization, which makes networking feel dramatically less unequal than before. Realizing I can’t avoid it, I’m learning to embrace networking, and it’s helping me make the most of my internship experience. That doesn’t mean I won’t be nervous on Wednesday when I have an informational interview with a Director in Supply Chain, but it does mean I’ll be able to laugh off my terrible kickball skills when our league starts on Tuesday.