Friday, April 18, 2014

Networking while on your Internship

Let's talk about Networking! This is a very important skill at any company but espcieally so at the Walt Disney Company.  The Disney College Program and Professional Internship Program boasts that you will have the chance to network with others in the company. While this is true, it does take some effort on your end to make this happen. I did not do very much networking on my first college program, my second was also very limited, however I chalk that up to nervousness and inexperience. This time around I have done several meet and greets with different people in different areas of the company.

First the programs office offers several networking events each season. Make sure to attend the speaker series that are advertistised in the Housing emails. Attending these events will give you the chance to learn about other areas of the company and to mingle with those working in other areas. Get contact information at these events from these people.

Can't attend the events due to your work schedule? Living outside of housing? Don't worry there are other ways you can network.

Start by talking to your leaders.
Your leaders can be one of your best resources in helping you network and work toward your career goals. ask to schedule one on ones with them to discuss your performance but also your career goals. Leaders at Walt Disney World have often worked in many other areas and can offer advice based on what you should do to move your career forward. If your career goals are outside of your current role don't be afraid to ask if they know anyone who works in Marketing, Events, Finance, Recreation, Entertainment, or whatever it is you are interested. The Walt Disney Company is a very large company, but because they often promote from with in it is very likely that someone your leader worked with at The Great Movie Ride 15 years ago is now working in Public Relations.

Talk to other Interns 
Have you met any interns working in other areas or an area that you are interested in? Ask them who their leader is or who would be a great person in the department to talk to. Connecting with other Professional Interns can be tricky because unlike CP you are not all living in the same housing. You may be the only intern in your department, floor or even building! Utilize the facebook group to connect with other interns across property. 

Ask new contacts for additional contacts
Once you have had the opportunity to network with someone always ask if there is someone else they could set you up with. Did they mention their team works closely with another team or department frequently? Ask for a contact in that department to learn more about different aspects of the company.

Here is an example. I am trying to get a feel for the different areas of events at the company. I spoke with a friend who was a former PR intern who referred me to someone in the Marketing department. I emailed this person saying that so and so had given me your name and that I was very interested in learning more about Marketing Events and would you be willing to set up a time to do a meet and greet? That person then gave me the name of someone in Park Event Operations who then gave me a contact in Catering and Conventions. Once you get started it is easy to get the ball rolling.

How to ask for a Meet and Greet
Now here is the intimidating part, but once you do it a few times it becomes easy. Once you have your contact you will want to email them to ask to schedule a meet and greet. Depending on the situation this person may already know you will be contacting them. Sometimes a leader or someone else you have met with will send an email to that person letting them know you will be contacting them. Other times all you have is a name.

I always start out by introducing myself and where I currently work. Then I explain how I got their contact information (Ex, Your current intern "Joe" spoke very highly of you and said you would be a great contact in Events) Then state that you would like to schedule a time to talk about their current role and the operation as a whole in order to learn more. I usually give examples of my current schedule and days off so they have an idea of when I would be available then thank them for the opportunity.

Sometimes it might take a few days for people to respond. Remember that most roles do not have regular days off so you might have sent an email while this person is out of the office. Other times it can be very busy and the person may forget but then email you later. Only once have I not received a response from someone. And honestly you do not have anything to lose. The worst they can say is No, or not respond. But it has been my experience that many people at the Walt Disney Company truly want to help others succeed and reach career goals.

If they email you back to set up a meeting time, Great! Now think about what you want to know about their role, such as daily tasks, how they got into the role, how you can transition into a role like this, and also don't forget to ask for contacts in other areas! Other important things to remember is to wear business professional clothing AND your name tag. I like to bring a copy of resume and always remember to write a thank you follow up email.


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