This is a guest blog written by Intern Queen Campus Ambassador, Meredith, a student at Northwestern University. She is majoring in Radio/TV/Film.
In the entertainment industry, one skill that is absolutely essential is the ability to network. A lot about it is meeting people and making connections, especially if you’re in a new career or area. This past summer was my first in LA and I didn’t know anything about anything. I reached out to friends of friends who had been in the area for recommendations, tips, hints, ANYTHING to help me survive out on my own in the big bad world of television. The problem people have is how to meet people and network.
One good solution is using your university. A big factor in why I chose my university was the relationship between undergraduates and alumni. Northwestern, as does many universities, setup a database to contact alumni based on their vocational field, location, even activities they might have done while in school. Alumni encourage students to reach out to them for questions and advice, which is exactly what I did. This past summer, I looked up alumni who was in the area and emailed her asking if she wouldn’t mind meeting up for coffee. I got a response from a woman who was quite happy that I had contacted her, and we set a date and time for Starbucks. It turns out this woman was a head writer for Scrubs, a personal favorite of mine. She has very easy to talk to, gave me some really good advice, and it turns out we had a lot in common. She then referred me to a university group for undergraduates on the west coast, which I would not have found by myself. I’m so grateful I used the website to meet up with her because I learned some things first hand that I wouldn’t have learned from anybody else. That’s one of the great things about networking- you meet people who want to help you and are happy to do it. I suggest you look on your university’s website for any kind of program or database to orient you with alumni.
Another great networking tool is through friends. A classmate of mine went to high school with someone who worked at the company that I someday aspire to work for. I (kindly) asked her for her email and I contacted her. I introduced myself and asked if she’d be willing to meet up for lunch and she happily agreed. During lunch she gave me the rundown of how she got to be where she was, gave me advice, and told me she’d be happy to help me in any way that she could. She could have done nothing and showed little interest in helping me, but there was only one way to find out. My mother once told me that if you never ask, the answer is always no. So, ask around! If there’s somewhere you really want to work, ask around to see if anyone you know has worked there, or if they know someone who has. Networking is an important skill to have in order to help yourself, and hopefully help someone else too!
What tips do you have for networking?