Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I got an internship!

I have been working at Gender Links (GL) for a week now. I had an interview on Thursday, 13 April, with organization called GL (see http://www.genderlinks.org.za/), to be an intern. I got the position and I am very excited. This blog is not about the organisation or even the interview, rather I want to start a discussion on our blog about networking and networking skills. Throughout our internship programme, various presenters stressed the need to network with people in our field of interest and also with random people who may be of assistance in the future.

So I interviewed the Director of GL, Kubi Rama, last year September, while I was doing my field work for my research. She is an expert in the area of gender and media and she had a lot to say in regards to my research topic (news media coverage of women's health in the realm of HIV and AIDS). While I was at the interview I met someone who used to go to Wits, Agnes, and she was the intern at the time. I told Agnes what great experience she was getting and that I would want to intern there as well. Now that I think retrospectively, this was the first point of the network, but I did not think much of this at the time, I was working really hard to finish my research report. I just wanted to share my enthusiasm with her about how I thought GL is doing great work.

In March I got an email from Agnes, she wanted a copy of my research because she was doing some research herself on a similar topic and wanted to sort of compare notes. I sent her a copy and at the same time I asked her if there was any positions for an intern open at Gender Links. She replied gratefully for my research and said she would ask around to see if there were any openings. I waited about two days and she told me to forward my CV to her director (she returned the favor). I sent my CV in an email the next day and a week later I got a phone call to come in for an interview; that was Thursday the 13th of April. I met with the Executive Director and the staff in an informal meeting/interview and they asked me questions about my interests and passions and realized that I was a great fit for their organization and told me I could start today.

Now the point of this little story is to ask about the issue of networking. I do not think GL would have told me that they have a place for an intern if I had phoned their office and no openings were advertised on their website. This makes me think that I would not have known about this position if I didn’t know Agnes. I know that I had to be qualified and available to actually get the position, so I am not saying that’s it is ALL about who you know. It just makes me think about the importance of networking. I would like some feedback on this…

“It’s all about people. It’s about networking and being nice to people and not burning any bridges. “ ~ Mike Davidson (not related to me. I think…)

Chelly blogs at http://www.rochellerenere.blogspot.com/

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Hi Rochelle I am so proud of you together with other four WOW trainees who got their internships. You are right, networking is powerful and since WOW introduced us to some powerful people, I think that we are on the right track regarding networking which will in turn help us where we want to go regarding our careers.
Hiya Rochelle...


Your reasoning about the value of networking is spot-on.

It goes deeper. Here's a question that everyone should ask themselves: 'Am I the type of person other people would want to work with, be with, spend time with? What makes me that kind of person?'

In your case, it's clear that when you were networking, you were pleasant to be around, you were genuinely passionate AND interested in your topic, and you were generous to your intern buddy by giving her your research.

I'd say that your generosity, passion, interest are some of the reasons you got your internship.

Now those are things that cannot be faked. And this has real implications. You need to put yourself in the position of doing stuff that liberates those natural enthusiasms and generosities.

In other words, if you love the ocean, but choose to spend all your time in Joburg, working in a bank, there's a VERY good chance that you'll be curtailing your personality.

Part of why I've been pressing you guys to be passionate and outspoken in your blogs is to allow you to liberate your enthusiasms. When you're passionate, it shows. And passion is addictive to others.

Blue skies
Another note on networking:

The LEAST effective way to get a job is through advertised jobs at an organisation. The MOST effective way is through personal networks.

What does this mean?

It means that if you answer a help-wanted ad, you're up against hundreds of desperate people all trying to get the job.

However, if you have a personal network, and let that network know that you're looking for a job, not just any job, but a specific job over which you have passion, then your network will spot opportunities for you.

What's the least effective way of activating your personal network?

Saying, 'I want a job, any job. I'm desperate. I'll take whatever.' Put yourself into the shoes of a potential employer hearing an utterance like that. They'd be thinking, 'Sheesh. Low-level person. Serious desperation. They'll be here for two weeks and hate it.'

Rather, think about your passion, and what you WANT to do in a job. And be very clear about putting those wants into the world. (Your blog is the very best place to do that.) So your personal network knows that you're passionate about something. And they're able to spot those REAL opportunities on your behalf.

So... to those of you engaging with the comments section of this blog... I'd like you to take some time to question yourself about what's appearing on your blogs.

Are you being passionate? Or are you just filling space on your blog saying things you think people want to hear?

I'd like to encourage you to reall claim your voice. BE yourself on your blog. And at some point, the opportunities will flow. (It may not be today. And it may not be in a month. You're doing the blog because you're passionate about your topic, not because you want a job.)

Blue skies
Networking is LONG-TERM, not short term. You don't network with people cos of what you can get out of it. You do it cos you want to give something freely to them.

I practise the 'pay it forward' method of lending things to people.

If a buddy of mine needs money, I offer what I can afford, knowing that I'm NOT GOING TO GET IT BACK. I specifically do not want to receive a payment back from a friend. Instead, I say to my friend, 'The way you pay back this loan is to give a similar amount to someone in need at some point in the future.'

This keeps friendships alive. And it means that once I've given some money to a buddy, I can feel free and positive, knowing that my loan is actually an investment in someone else's future happiness. And my friend feels good too in accepting such a loan, cos it gives them the opportunity to do a good deed later on.

This is the spirit of networking.

For instance... I'm spending a fair amount of time and energy on this blog and on the email list. I really do not have in the back of my mind some idea that you guys are going to employ me at some point later on. The possibility is open that we may one day do business. But that's merely a possibility.

I'm spending this time and energy because I believe you'll do good things with it, and it'll make a difference in the world. And other people will read it, and do good things with it.

And that makes me feel good.

Also, in sharing my knowledge with you, I get to know what I know a little bit better. I love knowledge. And I love engaging with it.

This too is the spirit of networking.

Blue skies
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