On February 23rd, UCSB students and local professionals gathered at the Mosher Alumni House on the university’s campus to explore the art of networking and internships. The event began with a lively panel discussion by AWC-SB professionals and their interns about the essentials of interning and networking. Panelists helped encapsulate the daily role and responsibilities of an intern and/or mentor, emphasizing the successes and triumphs they’d experienced. The night then transitioned into individual, around-the-room introductions, followed by an open mixer segment where students and professionals could network.
The panelists included Deborah Hutchison, president of Gutsy Gals Inspire Me, Jina Carvalho, marketing and communications director at Psyche Alive, and Lois Phillips, author of Women Seen and Heard. Jina’s intern, Mary Kate MacFarland, and Deborah’s intern, Brenna Osborn also graced the panel. The panelists discussed how internships truly are a “two-way street,” meaning that mentors’ and interns’ knowledge are equally enriched by one another. Deborah informed the group that internships are not always structured or require a single responsibility; rather, they demand many different tasks that require interns to constantly be on their toes and gain experience in a wide variety of disciplines. Lois suggested that internships be used by students to market their skills, passions, etc., in order to find out what they do and don’t like, career wise. She encouraged interns to always ask questions of mentors to ensure that the field they hope to pursue is the right fit. Both of the intern panelists, Mary Kate and Brenna, described particular skills they had acquired through their internships, including public speaking and communication skills. Mary Kate stressed that it is important for students/interns to be willing to learn and take on new roles and activities, even when they think they can’t.
The two-way street aspect of internship most often surfaces in terms of social media. All of the professional panelists agreed that they have difficulty keeping up with the constant growth of technology and social media, while their younger generation interns do not. It is helpful for mentors to have technologically savvy interns who can help publicize their work in ways the mentors themselves don’t know how.
The panelists shared, through some personal anecdotes, that interns always walk away with achievements and professional connections they can use to network and market themselves in future endeavors. The panel concluded on the note that the relationship between mentors and interns is a reciprocal one that benefits both parties throughout their professional and personal lives.