I’ve been working for Microsoft as an intern for roughly 9 months. The first 4 months was spent learning about the Multinational Advertising Network and from October 2010 I became a Multinational Account Manager for the Microsoft Media Network. At times the job can be very demanding and I can honestly profess that I learn something new each day in this role – it is full on. As far as internships go though, excellent.
Although the most valuable thing I take away from this internship should not be the monthly pay checks but instead knowledge, skills and experiences. Somehow I have found myself at Microsoft, a company who only employs the best of the best (apologies for the cliché phrase). So as I near my contract’s end I have made it my duty to start expanding outside of my own team and network with other employees within the company.
Networking is key. A successful networker doesn’t necessarily need to worry about degrees as they have built up a reputation amongst others. After all, isn’t an interview simply a way for a boss to meet you? I want to reapply to Microsoft’s Graduate programme. How brilliant it would be if I already knew the boss who did my interview? Filling that little black book full of contacts is how people stay alive in business.
There is no better way to network than at a party. I’m not going to shy around the subject, sometimes working in an office is the last thing I want to do. It is far too focused and quiet when one’s mood is high. Most people when sat at their desks aren’t displaying their true character but instead a strange professionalism which the world has become so accustomed to. To truly network you need a pub (clubbing is simply too noisy for conversation) and the ability to forget the people you are chatting to might be your next boss.
In an interview the last thing you should be is shy or nervous; it will whittle your character down into a fake stuttering nerd. Instead present yourself graciously and comfortably, be who you are. I admit, easy to write but much harder to do in reality. The beauty of networking in a pub is that eventually alcohol will assist with the talking. Yes, I am advocating the use of alcohol as a sensible business networking method. There was a reason Jesus decided to turn water into wine at the party…
Just promise me that if you heed my advice and arrange networking in a pub that you will keep the alcohol quantity to the same level as the person you are drinking with? Imitation is powerful. Say if I was having a drink with the head of PR at Microsoft, I would aim to keep my drinking at the same level as that individual. To be honest most people do this anyway in a one to one situation, it is polite.
Last night I attended an after work leaving party as several colleagues move onto different roles outside of Microsoft (now preparing myself for the welcome party which will inevitably arrive!). In the space of 5 ½ hours I spoke to more people at Microsoft than I had done in the last 9 months of my internship. People in the company want interns to succeed. The older, humble and wise will confess that my generation will inevitably be the generation which keeps Microsoft going. Rarely can one see their own strengths but I know there are a handful of interns I’ve spotted who should stay at Microsoft, not for their sake but for Microsoft’s sake. The company cannot afford to lose such dedicated, talented and skilled individuals.
So this afternoon I embrace the brunt of a hangover which on the outside may look like mere gluttony. Instead I know that last night wasn’t just a leaving party, it was a business opportunity to network. Many remarkable people work for Microsoft and I had the pleasure of sharing a few drinks with them – priceless.
(For the record networking doesn’t always involve alcohol. Another effective networking method is to arrange 30min coffees during the day with professionals. Use this time to learn about them, make sure they do 70% of the talking.)