I’m not new to Washington, DC. Even though I live in Georgia, I feel connected to DC through family. I fancy that I have had similar childhood experiences as those who also grew up here: Being mad when your parents refuse to go to the mall to watch the fireworks on July 4th, playing tennis with new friends at the park in Chevy Chase, and, making a trek to various monuments every time a new friend moves to the area. I may not be new to visiting DC, but I am certainly new to its professional scene.
As an intern for the first time in the Capital City, I find myself surrounded by others like me, who have embarked on their annual internship pilgrimage to DC. The experience can be intimidating; and, regardless of what people say on sites, like Yik Yak, interns are often appreciated by their company leaders and colleagues. But, what about connecting with others outside of the workplace?
One of the most important things to do as an emerging professional in DC is to go to networking events where you don’t know anyone. While it’s nice to ask a bunch of coworkers to come with you to a networking event, odds are, if you do that, you will spend the whole evening socializing with them, and not making any new connections. Friends are comfortable. Taking a risk and introducing yourself to someone who could be valuable in the future is not. But boldness pays off.
Recently, I prepared myself to attend one of these networking events where I know no one. Being organized and prepared is key. I wrote a list of talking points and listened to a pump up playlist while getting ready. My tips to developing talking points include writing down silly stories that have happened to you lately, your interests, your elevator pitch, and things that inspire you.
Once you’ve finished the talking points, get ready by dressing for success. Once you arrive at the event, network with people above your professional level. Be charming and polite. Listen to others and they will listen to you.
Always remember that it’s okay to spend a few minutes off to the side while you take the temperature of the room or venue. This will help your confidence as you formulate a game plan to meet others. And lastly, it’s not useful to have a million people on your contact list if none of them take a particular interest in you. It’s your job to make the people who matter like you and see your potential so that they will want to stay in contact with you in the long run.
About the blogger: Madeleine Marshall
Guest blogger Madeleine (Maddy) Marshall is a rising junior at Mount Holyoke College pursuing a double major in International Relations and French. She is highly involved in the Student Government Association (SGA), including service on the Career Development Center (CDC) Advisory Committee and the Committee for Senate Continuity. Maddy traveled to Haiti to volunteer with a program involved with micro lending to women entrepreneurs in the Cap Haitien area last spring, bringing her one step closer to the ultimate goal of a career as a diplomat to a French and Arabic speaking country.
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