Networking: The Fast Track Between Classroom and Career

NEXTer Meredith Sain is an active NEXT for Women participant currently enrolled at the University of North Carolina.

I have been attending NEXT for Women events for the past year as I complete my college studies. Despite not yet being in the workforce full-time, I have gained skills that already are helping me to excel professionally, as well as, personally, and academically. NEXT for Women has given me a clear vision of what it means to be a professional and shared tools crucial to my success.

Earlier this year, NEXT for Women hosted an evening entitled “It’s Not Networking, It’s NEXTworking!” The event featured certified, professional coaches who worked with attendees on how to network in an authentic, genuine, and engaging manner. This opportunity taught me the importance of networking, while giving me the opportunity to connect with other young, career-driven women. This event left me with a desire to make new contacts and follow-up with them in the appropriate fashion. Through these connections I made at NEXT for Women networking nights, I was able to find a stimulating summer internship in marketing and corporate sponsorships with RBC Bank.

When I began my search for a summer internship, I conversed with people in my newly developed network, asking them to reach out to their contacts whom may be looking for a summer intern. After initial contacts had been made, I began the process by researching companies that had expressed interest in bringing me aboard for the summer, emailing with potential employers, and engaging in informational interviews that lead to formal interviews.

After exploring several possibilities, I found that RBC was the best fit for me. Because I had taken the time to develop relationships with the people in my network, they were eager to help me when I needed it. Likewise, I am more than willing to return the favor when someone expresses the need for my assistance.

Like many other practices that improve our lives, networking is not a one-time thing – It is an ongoing process that we must maintain, expand, and strengthen throughout our careers. Successful networkers stay in contact with people they meet, follow-up with new contacts promptly, and continually seek ways that they can aid individuals in their network. In the early stages of my career, I have already witnessed the benefits of networking and am eager to see how the maturation of my network will enable me to thrive and succeed in the professional realm for years to come.

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