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Internships and other work experiences
Internships and other work experiences

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5.1 Why networking works

Expanding your network will give you a wider pool of potential support. Proactively introducing yourself to the people in your office, even if they don’t work in your immediate team, will help you fit in more quickly and make it easier to ask them for help if/when you need it.

If you impress people with your commitment and enthusiasm, you never know when that could work to your advantage – from gaining access to additional learning opportunities, to job offers further down the line. Letting those around you know about your plans and ambitions will help them to keep you in mind when future vacancies arise.

One way to maximise your work experience is to gather as much inside information as possible about how an organisation or sector works. Make the most of the range of ‘experts’ around you by asking them questions or for advice. This detailed knowledge will give you an advantage over other candidates in future job interviews. You will start to think about what these questions could be in the next activity.

Activity 5 Preparing questions

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes for this activity

Once you’ve started your work experience, it will be useful to make a list of the people who you’d like to network with. They might be senior managers, individuals in roles that sound particularly interesting to you or colleagues with a role that allows them to see the bigger picture.

To help you target the right people, spend a few minutes thinking about the questions you might want answers to and make a note of them below.

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If you have your list of questions in mind, you should find it easier to identify the right people to answer them, plus you’ll have a set of pre-planned questions to ask if a networking opportunity comes up unexpectedly. Asking focused, intelligent question will usually impress the person you are talking to more than a vague, meandering conversation!

If you already have a career sector in mind, you may have found it easy to come up with a list of targeted questions. But if you are planning to use your internship or other experience to start your career exploration, you might find some more generic questions useful. For example:

  • What do you enjoy about working here?
  • What do you find challenging about working here?
  • What would be a typical career progression from your role?

You’ll return to the topic of networking in Week 5.