I'm currently doing my first internship which goes for 20 weeks. After working 2 months here, I feel like I don't have enough connections ( I know the team members that work in the same office) but I'm looking to have more connection with other people on the floor or in the department. One reason, I may want to change the team and find my fit in the company. Having connection with people outside of the team helps the goal. Any advice on how to initiate the connection is appreciated!
Great question. This is a case where the intern and the company both have the same longer term interests. You, as the intern, want to figure out what YOU want to do longer term. The company wants to find people interested, able, and excited to work fulltime.
I feel like I don't have enough connections ( I know the team members that work in the same office) but I'm looking to have more connection with other people on the floor or in the department.
There are a couple ways you can approach this.
- Request to job shadow. Ask your supervisor, "I am enjoying the work I am doing, but haven't really been exposed to what others are doing here - can I reach out and job shadow some other groups to see what they do?" You may be able to even get recommendations from your supervisor on who to talk with
- Talk with other interns. If there are lots of interns, you all can easily discuss your work and groups. This also can help get contacts if your supervisor doesn't really know anyone.
- Larger social lunches. If you feel more adventurous, coordinate either an on/offsite lunch as a social event. This is an easy way for you to meet people (someone has to be the contact person for everyone!)
- Networking lunches. My company HR coordinates monthly networking lunches, which basically put random groups of 4 together each month to get lunch. This works wonderfully, you might check if your company has anything similar.
- Randomly introduce yourself to people. I once worked in a desk next to some "traveler desks" where people would stop by if they were onsite, but generally didn't work onsite. I normally would introduce myself to these people, because I am friendly, and slowly realized I was building a network of people I knew. This can help, because you get exposure and can easily ask "oh, what do you do?" in those conversations. People like to talk about themselves.
May I suggest taking a step back and considering what is good and bad about your current role so that you could know if other roles will be a better fit? For as much as you want to go to another team, how confident are you that you won't find similar issues over there? Give serious consideration as to why you want to be in a different team, what isn't working in your current situation and what kind of ideal work environment you want. In wanting to switch teams you may well be asked, "Why do you want to switch teams?" and saying that you aren't happy with your current team isn't likely going to go over well as a good reason for moving you around. There is something to be said for working out a bit of strategy rather than just thinking you can blindly do what you want. Those first roles will usually have struggles like understanding the process and seeing how things are done in the real world. While on the one hand you got a bit of a wake-up call, I wonder how well do you know where you want to be? Do you want to be doing systems administration? Analysis of some kind? Project management? There are various roles and you'd better be able to explain why you want to shift into something else so that it makes sense to management and HR as they may well have to approve such shifts.
Some companies will use older technologies as they have to support existing systems and new systems aren't necessarily that easy to build. Start-ups may be better if you want to work with the cutting edge technologies but be aware that this could mean other trade-offs versus working in a large company like you are now. Additionally, some processes may be in a state of being changed on a regular basis and thus it is possible to occasionally see people struggling on finding ways to change the process to be more efficient and better.
Depending on your location, there may be various technical groups and clubs that would be a way to build a network. Consider sites like Meetup and groups on LinkedIn as a couple of ideas for where you could go to find others working in the field. I know of various groups around me in Calgary, Alberta though I don't know how well that applies to you as you don't state where you are. Fortune 100 companies may well have offices in many cities around the world.
Lastly, it may be worth talking to some of your colleagues to get an idea of how they view your work. Would any of them be a good reference? Would they vouch you are a good worker that should be given a transfer? How much longer is your internship? You need to get an idea of how do others see you as one point here. As for building the relationship, there are a few parts to this:
At work, on the job - Are there people you work with regularly in your development? How well do you associate with these people? Do you help them with their work? Do you learn from them?
At work, off the job - Do you take breaks with co-workers? Do you have lunch with co-workers? There can be something to be said for hanging out with co-workers to get to know them and build various bonds.
Away from work - Have you thought about socializing away from work with some of the co-workers? Perhaps some will go to a bar sometime during the week that can be another opportunity to get to know them. Perhaps you could go see a movie with these people? There are various ideas here for how to spend time with people that may work.
Social media - Could you be friends with these people on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter? This is an idea and depending on what you post there and how you use these sites, this can vary as an idea but it is something to consider.
Look around for your "mentors", not just the official mentors or managers but employees that are on the same project as you, but are also on other projects. Ask them questions about these other projects. Ask if you can attend a meeting or read some documents about the project or the technology they are using. After a while you might even ask them to introduce you to members of the other team.
The enhanced level of interaction with team members, if not done to the level of stalking, can make a positive impression. You want to be interested in more than your assigned task so that you can appear to be interested in learning. The interactions with members of other teams will help spread you contacts into other parts of the company.
The corporation as a whole wants to be able to find a position for interns that they view as capable. Yes, the project you are assigned to work with as an intern may expect you to work for them after graduation, but that might not even be possible.
I have seen interns assigned to projects that had short term needs but no definite long term need. Others were able to use interns because their department had funding available. Depending on the time left to graduation the team might not even exist when you are ready to become a full time employee.
A goal for your internship is to be able to make a positive impression to several people in the company, so that they can be used as a direct or indirect reference for a job. You don't want to walk away with a hundred business cards from people that will not remember you next year. But I hand full of LinkedIn contacts from people who will remember you, can help you when you are looking for a job.
You want to have away to contact these people besides via company email. You access to the address list will disappear at the end of you relationship with the company. Also if they leave the company you have no way of asking them for help. I wouldn't use social media that isn't geared for business, because it is generally not advisable to friend your work contacts on these platforms.