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What is the best way to meet people during an internship? I recently had my first internship at eBay and explored this very question. On the first day, I experienced an odd and unfamiliar feeling: loneliness.
It is not often I find myself in a situation where I know absolutely no one. This is rare for me as an extrovert because I meet people wherever I go, such as at the bookstore or office hours.
I believe I inherited my outgoing personality from my family. My Abuelita (Grandmother) is friends with the cashiers at the grocery store, workers at the car wash, etc. Not long ago, I joined her at my Abuelito's (Grandfather's) podiatrist's receptionist's wedding.
When I called home, my parents comforted me and reminded me it would only be a matter of time before I made friends and knew people at work. The question was, who were these people I was going to meet and how would I meet them?
Starting day two, I set out to meet various interns and employees within the company. I am nearly two months into my internship and have met some great people from various levels and positions within eBay Inc. These people shared with me their backgrounds and experiences. Now, I have a better understanding of what I want to do next for my career. Below are some ways I met people during my internship.
Five Ways to Meet People At Work:
1. Invite employees for lunch or coffee. Research your company or ask your manager for names of employees with positions you are interested in learning about. You will have uninterrupted time to ask them questions about their career paths, current jobs, daily lives, and more.
Before my internship, my computer science professor challenged me to have lunch or coffee with a different employee every week. He urged me to learn as much as I could about the company and the workplace in general.
I have had lunch with employees in areas such as software engineering, project management, analytics, security, and more. What better way to learn about specific roles than from the people in them? These lunches have been some of my favorite parts of my internship.
2. Host an event for the interns. Pick something you enjoy and you will find other interns with similar hobbies.
I invited all the interns to board game night at my apartment. We had a blast! I also have met more people at events other interns have organized, including dinners and barbeques.
3. Attend intern/company events that interest you. Who knows? Someone you meet at an intern bowling event or showcase might become your friend or co-worker in the future.
I play soccer every week with the interns. This has given me a core group of friends amongst the interns. The sport has bonded us and we regularly share meals together off the field. This is also the group of people I bonded with the most quickly.
4. Carpool to events. You can meet people on the way to/from events while being eco-friendly. The trip (even if it is only 30 minutes) will give you the chance to create a shared experience with someone else. And, once you get to the event, you will already know someone.
I have carpooled to countless events this summer and have enjoyed getting to know people better during the drives. In one instance, I ended up carpooling with a recruiter from a company I am considering applying to. My decision to sign up to carpool may mean the difference between getting and not getting a job offer.
5. Introduce yourself. Stuck in a long line for food or the restroom? Seize the opportunity.
One day, I struck up a conversation with a woman who was also wearing exercise clothes in the restroom. We have arranged a day and time to hit the gym together. Making personal connections in your internship is valuable no matter what avenue you choose to connect.