The number one goal of an internship is to learn. Interns are expected to learn the policies and procedures of their office; learn skills in their industry that the classroom can’t teach; and learn the expectations of professionals in their field. However, an intern’s lesson doesn’t stop there. Another great place to learn all about your field and position yourself to get ahead is at conferences. I recently had the chance to attend a statewide conference for public relations professionals. While I was there, it clicked with me. Conferences aren’t just for established professionals, but are great for students and interns as well.
If for no other reason at all, a conference allows you to let other professionals know you exist. They give you the opportunity to meet like-minded people and the chance to market yourself. After attending this weekend’s conference, I felt a renewed commitment to my job and came back to work brimming with fresh ideas.
Attending a conference as a young professional can be a bit intimidating at first. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your next industry function and make a lasting impression on the other attendees
- Be aware of the conference agenda. Put time and effort into deciding which seminars you want to attend. Also attend sessions that can help you enhance the skill areas in which you are weak.
- Be an active participant. Whether you are at a business meeting or your industry’s national conference, don’t be afraid to ask questions, take notes and make comments.
- Ask for the business cards of presenters and other professionals you may meet. Also, have your own business cards hand. This will make you easy to remember.
- After the conference, send a note to each acquaintance you meet. Thank them for the time they spent talking to you and ask to be kept in mind for new opportunities they may come across in your field.
Attending an industry event is a long term investment for your future. It shows your intern supervisor and other professionals that you are serious about your field and want to learn as much as possible. Plus, they often take place in great locations. Take some time to research what conferences and events are coming up in your area and sign up. It is an experience you don’t want to miss.