You’ve secured an internship in the United States, the hardest part is over. As you begin packing you start to realize, “I don’t know anyone in my new city. How will I make friends?” There is no need to worry about this. This is a common fear that most people have when traveling abroad.
Being in a new place, especially a foreign country can be a difficult transition. Making new friends, or even casual acquaintances is an important part of feeling comfortable in your new surroundings. Don’t be afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zone, be flexible, approachable, and tolerant and you’ll most likely have no problems. However, knowing where to look can be helpful.
Your company – More so than some other foreign cultures, Americans generally tend to be less formal in the workplace and open to going out with work colleagues. Sure, you probably won’t ask the other interns to get a drink after work on the first day, but as you become more comfortable with the people around you, you may suggest going out to lunch, getting a happy hour drink after work, or attending company events.
Meeting up with a colleague outside of work may also allow you time to network. You can find out more about the industry, the paths you can take, and what options may be available to you when your internship is finished.
Local Schools and Universities – Your U.S. city or town will most likely have a post secondary-school, community college, or university in it or close by. Even though you aren’t a student at that particular university you can still take advantage of the social networking and community that the school offers.
Try visiting the campus library or student union building. If you bring a book, or something to work on, you may be surprised to find others who are interested in chatting or finding out what you are doing. Many schools also have an outdoor quad or meeting area. When the weather is nice you can sit outside and strike up a conversation with the people around you.
Community Centers and Clubs – If you have a particular interest or hobby you may be able to connect with others who share these by contacting your city’s local community center or searching on the internet for specific clubs and groups in your area. Many towns have various arts clubs, theater groups, and language courses or tandem partners. Use these resources and you’ll be sure to meet someone you can easily connect with.
Facebook and Social Networking Sites, Meetup’s – While you should always be cautious when meeting people from online sources, Facebook and other networks have community groups and forums you can join to reach out to others in your area based on interests, field of study, age group, and more. For example, if you’re interning in San Diego and enjoy roller-skating, Facebook has groups such as “Skate This San Diego” and “San Diego Roller Derby”. Get connected by attending group events and meet-ups.
Making new friends is possible even if you are interning in a small town or community. The key is to be yourself and make yourself approachable.
1. Getting Referrals and Recommendations
The saying “ It’s not what you know but who you know” has never been more true. The best career opportunities often come directly from referrals from personal connections. The more people that you establish good relationships will help open doors of career growth for you.
2. Making New Friends and Establishing Lifelong Relationships
Living in another country is a great way to make new friends that you can exchange ideas, perspectives, and experiences with. The new friends that you make can lead to opportunities for you to work in different places around the world. It also opens up opportunities for you to travel and visit friends wherever they live.
3. Improving your English and Communication Skills
Networking with other people will definitely help you to improve your English and communication skills. Each person that you meet will have different styles of communication. Introducing yourself to new people will help you learn how to get your message across to people.
4. Learning From Mentors
At your internship, you will have the opportunity to learn from experienced professionals in your industry. Establishing good relationships with them will help you to get the most out of your internship. Executives, managers, and coworkers with lots of experience can share their knowledge and insights with you.
5. Discovering Innovative Ideas and Inspiration
Networking with people at your internship, school, and places of interest is a great way to discover new ways of working within your industry. Whether you are an inspiring engineer or an ambitious marketing specialist, you can learn fresh and innovative ideas that can help you excel in your career.
Networking during your internship is important for your career growth and social life. The power of relationships can provide you with career opportunities in the future. Making connections with mentors and new friends allows you to improve your English, learn innovative ideas, and sets up opportunities for you to travel globally in the future.
The best places to network are:
- Your company
- Universities and Schools
- Community centers and clubs
- Facebook and social media network sites