When I first participated in the Disney College Program in 2012, I remember hearing that networking was one of the most important things to do during the program if you wanted to land a Professional Internship or real job later on. Of course, I heard this piece of advice all the time about landing a job, no matter if it was at Disney or not. But being at Disney gave me a special opportunity to meet people who I might want to work with one day.
That being said, I did not really do a great job of networking during my College Program. Sure, I attended Leadership and Marketing seminars, as well as a speaker series with alumni who work in Events, but I never actually formed any beneficial relationships.
Now that I’m more than halfway through my Professional Internship, I decided it was time to kick it into high gear and learn the wonders of a Meet & Greet!
Having quite a few Meet & Greets with recruiters and communications professionals under my belt now, I can say that you don’t need to be looking for a job immediately to benefit from this type of networking. Meet & Greets are just as much for you to learn as they are to build a relationship.
Whenever I have a Meet & Greet, I always ask these questions:
- Can you tell me about your department? What kind of roles are involved and what kind of work do you do?
- Can you talk about your own personal career progressions, and how you got to where you are today?
- If I wanted to follow a similar career path, what are some key things from your experiences that you would recommend I do?
- Based on my skills, if you had a job opening, what do I still need to do to be qualified for a role on your team?
These questions allow you to understand what the person is looking for and what you need to do to succeed in the future.
I always write down a few key take-aways during a Meet & Greet, so I can follow-up. Then, I send a thank-you note immediately after the meeting, mentioning specific things I learned from the conversation.
Finally, once I have completed the tasks suggested, I send another message to let the person know I took their advice. This is a great way to keep up the relationship I formed.
If I had known all of these things two years ago, I could have met many more people during my College Program. At the time, I didn’t see the point. When I was on my College Program, I was still two years away from graduating and didn’t need a job quite yet. Now, I know that Meet & Greets can benefit you at any stage of your career.
The networking I’ve done during these past few months has taught me a lot about a variety of work areas in the company I never knew existed. I now see many more possibilities for the next step in my Disney career!