I came into the summer maybe with an unrealistic expectation that I would make a lot of contacts and that my job would provide me with a lot of networking opportunities. I had an internship last summer that organized a lot of networking events specifically for the interns, held professional workshops for us every Friday, and even set me up with a personal mentor for the entire summer. It may have led me to believe that every internship would be like that one and that networking opportunities would be handed to me this summer.
That hasn’t been the case. And for the majority of my internship, I waited for those opportunities to come to me instead of seeking them out for myself. But last week, something in my brain switched and I realized that this summer internship is coming to an end soon and instead of waiting for contacts and professional development opportunities to be handed to me, I should be taking the initiative to make it happen myself.
Honestly, I was feeling frustrated. Frustrated that these networking opportunities weren’t being set up for me. Frustrated that I am going into my senior year of college and I don’t have a job already lined up (like some of my friends do). But I am trying to look at it in a different light.
I think for my first internship, having that structure and those professional workshops did wonders for me professionally. But I have to recognize that that was a privilege and that “in the real world” we have to seek out those opportunities for ourselves. I thought this summer internship wasn’t giving me anything to help in my professional development, but I am now realizing that it is really pushing me to get out of my comfort zone, stop waiting for future plans to come into my lap, and step up and take the initiative. And I think that the skill of being confident and willing and able to independently network, form contacts, set up meetings and phone calls, is something very valuable that I will walk away from this summer internship with.