This is a guest blog post written by our campus ambassador Ilyssa Weiner.
When I was interning in New York City over the summer, I had a really long commute to the city. My commute, in total, was about two and a half hours per way. I was only working three days a week though, so it wasn’t that bad once you get past the station transfer in Secaucus, New Jersey. The hardest part of the trip was the train ride to the first station, which was about an hour and half by itself. Normally during a long train ride, I would catch up on some reading or plug my headphones in and listen to some Spotify. One day, when the train was delayed by over 40 minutes, I was getting frustrated because I was afraid I was going to be late to work. Behind me was a very nice lady who was talking to one of the conductors. At that moment, I decided to jump into their conversation.
After the conductor left, the lady and I continued to talking to each other. During the conversation, she said she knew one of my friends from college because my friend used to take the train all the time when my friend was starting out. I immediately got excited. Before she and I got off the train, the lady gave me her business card. It turned out, she was the head of broadcast operations at MLB. The lady and I met a few more times, including a time she invited me to a barbecue at her friend’s house (which I went to and was a lot of fun) and another time when she introduced me to a career counselor from NYU (He also gave me his business card).
Moral of the story: You can network just about anywhere, not just at your internship or at networking events your school puts on. Networking while commuting is the perfect place to get out of your comfort zone. It might be a little difficult to network while you’re driving in your car. But, if you take a subway, bus, or train to your job, internship, or school, it’s a perfect opportunity. Here are some tips you can use the next time you commute:
- Be kind to everyone! - I know this sounds like an obvious thing, but it often gets overlooked. Easiest thing to do: Don’t push and shove to get on the train during rush hour. Wait your turn. Let other people go on ahead of you. Pushing and shoving will only give off a negative vibe.
- Look for people you see every day. Start a conversation with one of them.- If you notice the same woman getting on at the same stop and the same train car as you every Tuesday at 8:30 AM, don’t be afraid to go over and say “Hello” to her.
- Delays and traffic are the perfect conversation starters. - No one likes delays. Find someone to talk about your delay frustration to. It will transition into where you work/intern/go to school and what the other person does for a living.
- Don’t ask for a business card until you and the person you’re talking to have a meaningful conversation - Let the person get to know you. Don’t just go up to someone and be like “Hi! My name is Ilyssa. Can I have your business card?” Have a conversation with that person. Tell him or her about your life: where you’re from, where you’re going to school, where you’re interning or working, what do you want to do after college. Ask how that person got his/her job and what they do at their job. It’s kinda like an informational interview, but in an informal setting.
- Keep in contact with that person - This holds true for every person you meet while networking, whether it’s at an event or on a train. If you don’t keep in contact with that person, he or she is going to forget who you are. In a commuting setting, the person’s only thing in mind is getting to work. If you don’t contact that person outside of the train or bus, he or she won’t remember you. Email the person you meet as soon as you get home after you first meet. Let him or her know it was a pleasure meeting them. Email the person once in a while and ask how he or she is doing. The more you keep in contact, the more likely he or she will help you when it comes time to finding a job.