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Professional Confessional

A blog providing tips and resources for life after college

2013 June

TIP: Building a Network at Work

You’re meeting new people and developing relationships with your colleagues.  This group is an important one to nurture during your summer job or internship.  You may be asking…What is the best way to build a network at work?  How do I foster those relationships?

Here is what a few of our employers say:

Julie Armstrong, Talent Management

Ultimately, managing your career is your responsibility – this is something that you’ll have a true appreciation for when you enter the workforce after graduation.  And one of the most valuable ways you will manage your career and pursue your passions is through the network you’ll create.  To do this during your internship, consider speaking to your manager about your interests and areas of the organization you’d like more insight into.  Ask him or her if there is someone he or she would be willing to introduce you to; ask if there are meetings you would be allowed to attend and observe.  Learn the art of the “informational interview” – this is where you ask someone for 30 or so minutes of their time to meet, perhaps over coffee, so that you learn about what they do, their career path, and elicit their input on your own career path.  Come prepared for these types of informal meetings – you should drive the conversation.  Finally, take advantage of the various events and activities your workplace has to offer: lunch-‘n-learns, employee resource networks, town hall meetings, team activities, etc.  These offer great opportunities to network.


Lauren Dealexandris, Director of Intermodal Finance

Staying in touch with people through various means, and getting back to them quickly when they reach out to you is very important in building and maintaining relationships. Open communication and challenging is much easier when you have a previously established relationship, which makes advancing business issues and solutions more effective.


Ashton Longest, Recruiter

In a firm as large as Deloitte, it’s honestly very easy to build your network rapidly. From day one, you will have the opportunity to meet individuals of all levels through recruiting functions, training/orientation, engagement team assignments, the counselor/mentor program, intern events, business resource groups and community service activities. We strongly encourage all of our employees to build their network and leverage it for their own career growth, so it’s important to remember names and keep in touch with the individuals you have met through our people networks. Everyone within our firm, from our Global CEO down, is extremely approachable and desires to expand their network as well by getting to know you.


TIP: Building Relationships

Allison McWilliamsOPCD Expert Contributor – Allison McWilliams, Director of the Mentoring Resource Center & Professional Development 

One of the most important outcomes of your summer job or internship experience is the opportunity that it presents to build effective, positive personal and professional relationships. This is the beginning of your network, the group of people who will mentor you, provide resources and contacts, write letters of reference for you, guide you and give you feedback. Clearly, this is a very important group of people! However, building this network is sometimes easier said than done. The people you will be working with will be incredibly busy, and may not seem to have time to devote to your growth and development. So how then do you build a relationship with them?

Watch the video to find the answer.

To learn more, read further for details on building personal and professional relationships.

First, it starts with you. And, it starts with the work. You may feel that you are the lowest rung on the ladder, but trust me. Good work, and bad work, gets noticed. And good and bad behavior gets noticed. One of the easiest ways for you to build effective relationships with your co-workers and colleagues is to show up, every day, ready to give 150 percent to whatever task is in front of you. When you have downtime, seek out additional responsibilities. Ask others what you can do to help them. A great work ethic builds great relationships.

Second, take the time to focus on your growth and development. Quite frankly, if you aren’t willing to do the work on your own growth, then why should anyone else be bothered to help you? Set a few personal and professional goals for the summer. What are you going to work on between now and August? Once you have these goals and have established some rapport with your colleagues (which means, simply, you’ve taken the time to get to know them and feel comfortable around them), seek out one of these individuals and ask if you can take them to coffee or lunch to learn more about their career path. As part of this conversation, be prepared to ask for some feedback: what can you do to get better in your job, and what can you do to accomplish your goals?

Third, take ownership of the process. After you ask someone for advice and guidance, be sure to take the steps they have recommended, and then follow-up to let them know the outcome. Say thank you. Take responsibility to learn everything that you can, about your position, about the industry that you are working in, and be reflective about what you are learning.

Building effective relationships is not rocket science, but it does require work, and that work starts and ends with you. The good news is, you have complete control over how hard you are willing to work, which means you have complete control over how you develop your network!

Diary of an Intern: The First Week

Our student interns have experienced their first few days and week at their internships.  They have already discovered the internship is not only an experience to learn how to navigate the world of work, but to navigate a big city.

Let’s find out how their first few days and week went, how they navigate their big cities, and view pictures of where they work.

Zach Garbiso

New York Subway Stop

Not the stop I take for my internship.

 Hey everyone! I just started my internship on Monday, June 10th with Condé Nast in Editorial for Details Magazine.  The day started at roughly 9:30 AM, where we were introduced to the history of the Condé Nast brand.  From there, we were sent to our magazines to meet with our mentors and departments.  I am lucky enough to work with a lot of really talented people from whom I am anxious to learn a lot.  

Since I just barely started my internship, I decided to dedicate more of my entry to living in the overwhelming city that is NYC. This summer, I am living in Brooklyn Heights.  Since the Condé Nast Building is located in Times Square, I had to learn how to maneuver the ever-intimidating subway.  However, I fortunately only have to board one train in the basement of my building and take it all the way into the city, where I leave the train at the 42nd street/Times Square stop.  The picture is not the stop I take for my internship, which I found out the hard way…(you learn more when you get lost a few times…right?)

NYC - Times Square

Times Square

When you “come up for air” out of the subway, at the correct stop, you arrive in Times Square.  Cool, huh?

Condé Nast

Condé Nast Building

If you’re ever in the city, I have advice for you: DO NOT TAKE CABS!  The subway is a LOT cheaper, quicker, and extremely convenient.  I was terrified of it when I first got to New York City, but don’t worry!  There’s an app for that.  It’s called “Embark NYC” on the iPhone App Store and you can use your current location and even type in your final destination (doesn’t have to be a train stop, it can be an actual address), and it will give you step by step directions.


Embark NYC Subway App

As you can see, if you’re the kind of person who can read maps, the app also provides a map of each line and where it takes you.  But if you’re like me, and end up at 47th and 7th when you’re trying to go to Times Square, the app will make sure you get there safely.  I think that I have the subway system somewhat figured out, which means now all I have on my plate is focusing on my internship.

Zach Garbiso, ‘14 – Psychology major and English and Spanish minors

Editorial Intern at Details magazine in NYC




The view from my room looking up at night.

I started off my summer internship experience by moving into Intern Housing on the Georgia Tech campus. The dorms are really nice because they were built to house athletes for the 1996 Olympic games that Atlanta hosted. They are apartment style with 4 single bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a shared kitchen and living room area. They overlook the highway.


My building is the red brick one on the right!

There is A LOT of traffic in Atlanta. It is a little strange hearing cars at 3 AM 10 stories up, but that is the Atlanta way!

To the right…Having a view like this makes the traffic worth it! 

On the left is a view of my dorm on my morning walk to the MARTA station.

My internship is at the High Museum of Art. The High Museum of Art is part of the Woodruff Arts Center, which houses the Alliance Theatre, Young Audiences, the Atlanta Symphony, and of course, the High, all on one campus in Midtown Atlanta.


High Museum on the morning of my first day.

As you can see from the large hanging banner on the side of the building, we are getting ready for the opening of a major traveling exhibition to the High, Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis. For more information, check out the website: http://www.high.org/Art/Exhibitions/Mauritshuis-Collection.aspx. This is a really special exhibition because it is Girl with a Pearl Earring’s second time in the United States. The exhibition will visit only 3 US cities, San Francisco, Atlanta, and New York City. We have been in full-on promotion mode since the exhibition opens June 23rd. I spent my first afternoon calling restaurants within walking distance of the High to see if I could drop off some promotional flyers and then delivering these flyers directly to the restaurants. I am starting to learn my way around the area very quickly! I will be helping with a commercial that the High is filming for the exhibition. I was asked to play the part of paparazzi in the commercial, so that should be a fun experience!


My desk at the High Museum.

I feel very welcome at the High. I work closely with everyone in the Communications department. I have my own cubicle with a computer and phone in the administrative building. They even made a welcome sign for my first day! I am loving my internship so far, and I cannot wait to see where these next 8 weeks will go!

~Laura Jurotich, ‘15 – History and Art History major

Marketing and Public Relations Intern at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta

TIP: No Syllabus; No Grade

OPCD Expert Contributor – Patrick Sullivan, Associate Director of Career Education and Counseling

One of the biggest challenges about starting your internship is the ambiguity around what you are supposed to do.  In college, you pick your courses well in advance, your professors provide a syllabus at the start of class and you know what you need to study to get a good grade on a test.  If you are doing well at Wake Forest, you have probably figured out how to make this system work for you.

Your internship might come with a description of your responsibilities, but it doesn’t have a syllabus, there won’t be tests, and you won’t get a grade.  How should you figure out what you need to do?

Watch the video highlighting suggestions for receiving feedback during your internship.

To learn more, read further for tips to help you get the feedback you need to succeed.

  • Ask for feedback.  Because there isn’t a syllabus or a test in place, take it upon yourself to ask for feedback.  Early on, ask for feedback from your peers.  “What does the manager expect?”, “Is this the best way to prepare a presentation for the team?” are good questions for your peers.  Once you have a basic understanding of your workplace and you have begun producing work that is of value to the organization, ask your manager for feedback.  The answers to questions like, “How am I doing on this project?”, “Am I meeting your expectations on this project?”, or “Would you be willing to share your thoughts on what makes an outstanding intern/new hire?” can give you the direction you need to perform well.
  • Schedule informal interactions.  If your workplace doesn’t have a formal review process in place (and let’s be honest, many organizations aren’t going to do formal reviews of their interns), make it a point to interact with your peers and your manager outside the workplace.  Take someone to lunch and get their feedback.  Take your manager out for a cup of coffee and ask for her input.
  • Try the formal approach.  Here in the OPCD, we’ve designed an evaluation form designed to help you get the feedback you need.  If you want more concrete information about your experience and the skills you developed, ask your supervisor to fill out the evaluation form at the end of your internship.  Reflect on the feedback you receive and pursue opportunities to get better.  And hey, although the form suggests that you seek input shortly before the end of your internship, it can be used at any time.
  • Act on feedback.  This one’s important.  If you get feedback from your peers or manager that suggests that you need to change something, you have to make that change.  And let people know you are making that change.  Telling your manager, “That idea you suggested?  I tried it and you were right – it makes me much more efficient” is a great way to show that you are open to constructive criticism and able to grow personally and professionally.

So while there aren’t going to be tests or grades like you’ve had in college, you CAN still get feedback by purposefully interacting with your colleagues.  What’s the result?  The feedback you get will give you a better sense of your strengths and weaknesses.  You can seek out training to develop skills that need improvement.  You can build on your strengths to become a critical part of the team.

Just as important, though, is that you are developing relationships with colleagues that will be able to help you in the future.  They can offer advice, feedback, and suggestions when you are ready to take your next step and they can be your biggest supporters as you get your full-time career started.  Who knows – if things go well, they might be the people that you get your career started with!