Nervous. Anxious. Doubtful. Fearful. These are just some of the feelings I felt when I started interning at the Communications Network. I was afraid I would fail at my tasks because I had no background in communications. But those negative feelings quickly vanished. I had an amazing supervisor, Carrie, who reassured me that I had nothing to be afraid of. She told me that they were interested in my perspective and background in environmental studies, my major.

My main projects this summer included: making ComNet19, the annual conference, more sustainable, securing 1,000 reusable water bottles for attendees, and creating a web page that highlighted the new sustainable practices that were implemented. Working on these tasks never felt like work to me. Instead I felt excitement because it was the first time I was able to apply what I learned at Franklin & Marshall in the real world.

While I worked on my projects, I was also learning how to network. Through work I was given an opportunity to interact with experts in the environmental field, business leaders and ComNet19 attendees. These interactions gave me the practice I needed to be more confident and helped me realize that at the end of the day everyone is human. People don’t want to speak to a robot, they want to speak to someone who is personable.

This insight helped me secure a contract for 1,000 reusable water bottles for the attendees of ComNet19. These water bottles are ridiculously expensive. It took me nearly four weeks to find a reasonably priced, high quality bottle. I had to bring my Bronx girl attitude to the table when I was negotiating because I was not about to get scammed! Good news: I didn’t.

In the end, I was able to secure Welly bottles for all the attendees. (If you haven’t heard of Welly, I recommend you check them out because those water bottles are dope.) With this experience I learned that knowing how to communicate a message is extremely important. To secure a large order for a good price, I had to convince Welly that it would be beneficial for their products to be featured at our annual conference.

For my last project, I helped create a web page that highlighted the new sustainable practices the Network had implemented. I included the carpooling project (which helps attendees find other attendees who they can carpool to the venue with), the crafted menu that’s 75% plant based (which is way better for the environment), the eco-friendly swag, and much more. This was the most rewarding project because I got to look back at all the things I had worked on with the staff. When I finished the web page, I looked at it and smiled.

Networking and working with others helped me excel in all my projects. Some of the best practices to network imo (in my opinion – teaching you some slang) are to be yourself, know how to communicate your goals, and reflect on your progress. As someone who was afraid to talk to professionals, when I think back to all the connections I made this summer, I am, for lack of a better word, SHOOK.

In the future I will no longer feel nervous, anxious, doubtful, or fearful when networking. When I started this Fellowship, my network was limited, but now I’m confident and excited to create and expand my network on my own terms. I may still get a little nervous when meeting people, but after a few minutes I remind myself of how far I’ve come.