During my childhood, I spent the final days of each summer at the Illinois State Fair with my family. The journey from the parking lot to the carnival rides was a long one, especially because my dad was a small business owner and the type of person who never met a stranger. We couldn’t walk more than ten paces without someone coming up to say hello or my dad checking in with the vendors to see how their business was doing. My sister and I would tug on his arms, trying to inch closer to the double Ferris wheel and giant slide. Without realizing it until recently, watching my dad interact with members of our community was my first of many lessons in networking; a stranger is just a friend waiting to happen.
Like my dad’s, my own career is similarly influenced by the relationships I have developed and nurtured over time. I am still in touch my first boss, my graduate academic advisor, internship supervisor and a host of colleagues that have mentored me, opened up opportunities for me, or who simply reflect back the professional values I hold. These are people I genuinely enjoy and relationships I mean to keep regardless of the tangible benefits they bring.
As the Global Connections networking events continue to grow, I get excited thinking of all the professional relationships that will be initiated and transform careers over time. My hope is that people become engaged in the events because they understand how important networking is to career development, but certainly foremost because connecting with others in person is a such a fun thing to do, let alone natural for us social beings. With social media and emails dominating our communication these days, we often forget about the invigorating feeling that comes from meeting someone like-minded for the first time or the power of a handshake to spark an important business transaction.
While Global Experiences may be an internet-based organisation, we are inspired to create a real sense of community and personal service for all of our stakeholders in all of our locations worldwide. After all, the pleasure our own team derives from successful internship placements doesn’t come from meeting a bottom line, but from truly catalysing careers, building global connections and improving the well-being of others.