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My First Networking Event: Embracing Uncertainty

By Juliana Sarmiento


Feeling excited, anxious, and curious, I stepped into my first networking event, not knowing what to expect. On LinkedIn, everyone appeared so effortlessly professional and always seemed to know the right things to say. This made me feel like giving up before I even began.

 

In a recent poll, I discovered that many fellow interns share the same feelings about attending networking events. It is intimidating to be in a room full of strangers, unsure of who to approach or how to start a conversation.

 

However, my expectations couldn’t be more off. Five minutes into the event, I met a fellow intern in the same boat as me. We hit it off right away, sharing our experiences and stories.


What felt like an intimidating environment taught me the importance of lateral networking. Lateral networking involves building relationships with peers at your level. I always believed networking was focused on connecting with industry seniors but connecting with peers is just as powerful.

 

Lateral networking offers support systems, opens your eyes to different perspectives, and creates a strong foundation for your future success. Your intern peers at the same level can offer support as you grow in your career, just as you can support others growing in their careers.

 

After experiencing how easily my conversations flowed with fellow interns, I gained the confidence to approach others. I learned networking is about being curious about others and open to conversations. Don’t wait for your next networking event to practice the power of lateral networking. Spark up a conversation with the classmate sitting next to you. Send that LinkedIn connection to an intern in another department. It’s natural to feel nervous before trying something new. Being nervous means you care.

 

Have you recently attended a networking event during your internship? Share your experiences in the comments below! I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Juliana Sarmiento is interning with Elevate to Even+ during the summer of 2024. She is a student at Drew University majoring in Marketing and Psychology. She recently completed a semester abroad in Barcelona, Spain.




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