If there is one thing my internship taught me this past summer, it is the value of forming connections and networks. In my time at Bank of America, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Clemson’s Board of Trustees member and Bank of America South Carolina Market President, Kim Wilkerson and on a day to day basis, work alongside Clemson graduates who are high up in their respective lines of business at the bank. In my interactions with these individuals, I realized the importance of growing your network while a Clemson student, utilizing that network post graduation and giving back to the institution that has given so much to us all.
Here are some key pieces of advice I took away from interning in Corporate America:
Don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.
As an intern or an entry level employee, you may be intimidated to ask someone high up for thirty minutes of their time, don’t be. One of the best lessons I learned this summer is that people are overwhelmingly willing to help you if you ask. The reality of the working world is that those individuals in were once in your shoes and they want to help you just as someone helped them. Remember that no one wants to see you fail, they want you to succeed.
Use the time others give you effectively.
Networking can be hard. It is not uncommon for meetings to be canceled, rescheduled and canceled again. First and foremost, don’t get discouraged. Things come up and when meetings get canceled don’t take it personally. With that being said, it is incredibly important to be prepared when someone gives you thirty minutes or an hour of their time. If you know what their role entails, come with questions. If you don’t, do some research. People will remember those that come prepared and are eager to learn from them.
Be confident about what you do know and honest about what you don’t.
It will happen more than once, trust me. Your manager and team member may come to you with a project that you don’t have the skill set or knowledge to complete. While it may seem scary to admit you don’t know, it is better in the long run. Your team understands that you are a college student and haven’t fully developed your skill set yet. Remember that they are there to help you learn what you don’t know and fine tune the skills you already have!
Stay in touch & follow up.
If someone is kind enough to give you their time, remember to say thank you and keep in contact. Here are some ideas of how to do this effectively:
Send a LinkedIn invite with a note attached: Although a simple invite does suffice, a short note about your interaction and thanks for their time goes a long way and lets them know you appreciate their time.
Handwritten notes are highly recommended: While most of our generation has likely forgotten the value of a handwritten note, those in Corporate America haven’t. You’d be surprised by how touched people are by a handwritten gesture. They take time and money to send and show a greater appreciation on your part. You’d be surprised by how long they leave them on display in their offices, too.
Reach out after your internship has ended: While it is easy to return to college life post summer internships, don’t forget about the people and relationships you formed during them. If you are aiming for a job at the institution in which you worked, keeping your former teammates updated on the happenings of your life is very important! Sending an article that reminds you of them or a simple email is a nice way to stay in contact.
Don’t forget your Clemson network.
At Bank of America, I was lucky enough to have a Clemson alumnae as my manager and mentor. Despite her decked out Clemson office and plethora of orange attire, she never had to tell me how much she loves and appreciates Clemson. A current member of the Board of Visitors and active member in Clemson’s College of Business, she showed me in my day to day interactions with her how much she admires this university what it means to be a proud Clemson graduate. She utilized her connections to introduce me to numerous other Clemson graduates from the bank whom I now have relationships with. None of which I would have gained without her guidance. While your experience may not be the same as mine, remember your commitment, Ever Loyal to Clemson and say thank you to the faculty and staff that helped you land that internship.
Written By: Lauren Andrews