Going in to the internship, the main thought may be to get experience and hours. However, it is also a great opportunity to network. Using the field work placement for networking makes it a more joyful and fulfilling experience. As I’ve started networking with my supervisor and office director, I’ve come to see these additional benefits.
A great way to start networking is by asking questions. Questions are important because they allow you to gain inside knowledge without having to spend a lot of time doing research. I used to do research on the internet. The problem with this is that you can spend forever trying to find out a specific answer when it would be quicker to ask questions to your supervisor or other employees at the agency. Not only does asking a question give you a straight-forward answer, it builds the relationship with your fellow employees.
Another way a student can network is just by being a good employee. In my undergrad internship, my supervisor offered to write a letter of recommendation before I even asked her. It was great to have since it helped with future employment opportunities.
In my current field placement, I recently asked the office director about when to apply for post-grad jobs. Not only did he answer the question, he told me about another agency looking for a therapist. Though it will still be several months until I will get licensed, he said to let him know when I get closer to licensing and he would put in a good word for me. As the saying goes: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” A similar experience happened in my last employment. A co-worker was willing to call his family member to get me an interview even though the job was not posted online.
Another way to network in your field placement is to be open-minded. I had the opportunity to talk to a former undergrad professor. He asked me how I was and which population I wanted to work with. I told him I was unsure. Currently, I work with the substance abuse population along with anger management. However, I am open to the fact that I may or may not work with this population for a career. He then explained to me which agencies would be best for obtaining an LCSW due to supervision and insurance guidelines. This helped me a great amount because I didn’t even think to apply to these agencies and did not know the insurance policies. Being open-minded has helped me widen my job search but also create networking opportunities.