First, congratulations on securing an internship! You have chosen an excellent way to not only test-drive a career path, but also explore the inner workings of a specific company. No matter what your role, there are many opportunities to grow personally and professionally in an internship position.
While part of this growth should involve broadening your skillset, part of it should also include broadening your network. When it comes to networking in remote internships, though, the path forward may seem unclear. It may be difficult to imagine how you are going to meet people. Or, it may feel limiting to assume that all the connections you do make will take place online. Instead of ruling out networking altogether, take a look at 3 suggestions to get started.
Identify who works at the company and what they do
Without being physically present at an office, there is a bit of research required to identify who your coworkers are. One idea is to ask your supervisor for an organizational chart. Many companies regularly maintain a kind of ‘family tree’ which shows each employee and their role within the company. Some charts are maintained as a PDF document and some charts take the form of an internal company database. Even though these charts usually only provide titles and contact information, they can orient a new employee to the larger company structure.
An alternative idea would be to visit the company’s LinkedIn page to read through employee profiles. These profiles will provide the names, titles, educational backgrounds, and career paths of the employees at your company. These profiles can be helpful as you begin to identify with whom you might want to connect.
Be open with your supervisor about your goals, interests, and passions
Odds are, you and your supervisor did not get hired on the same day. Thus, they have had much more time to get to know fellow employees on a personal level. This means that they have the ability to act as a bridge between you and your coworkers. The more you are able to share with them about the things that excite you and are important to you, the better equipped they will be to connect you to others. These kinds of ‘warm’ connections may be especially helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of employee profiles on LinkedIn.
Ask about employee resource groups (ERGs)
First started in the 1960s, employee resource groups are employee-led groups within a company that are identity-based or experience-based. They are usually open to everyone and meant to build community and belonging. If you identify an ERG that you are interested in, you can ask to attend an upcoming event or connect with individual members to talk more about the group. Finding common ground with others in this way can lead to meaningful networking opportunities.
Finally, remember – in order to get to where you are today, you have had to build relationships along the way. It is likely that you have been networking for much longer than you realize and are much better at it than you assume. Happy connecting!