The Strength in Weak Ties: The Benefits of International Networking
Arriving in Dublin with The Intern Group for my summer internship in Ireland, I had no clue what to expect. Just like everyone else I wanted to make friends, learn, and experience Dublin. I was very excited to begin my international internship experience, but also nervous. Following my arrival on Saturday morning after getting to see a bit of what Dublin had to offer, I attended orientation Monday morning. As I sat there in a small group and talked with my peers, still jet lagged and still nervous, the presenter began telling us about weak ties. Specifically the weak ties we were going to make while here in Dublin. I scribbled down on my notepad, “weak ties: connect on LinkedIn, use for networking, and keep in touch.” Growing our professional network among our fellow interns, our program coordinators, and our coworkers would be a very important aspect of our international internship. The connections we were making all across the world could one day get us a great reference or lead to an employment opportunity. Little did I know that these ‘weak ties’ I made while in Dublin would be one of the most, if not the most, impactful part of my two months spent in Dublin.
My fellow interns would become some of my closest confidantes, biggest cheerleaders, and the best people to travel with. My program coordinators, Iolanda and Katlin, would become great role models and my favorite people to grab a pint with. My co-workers would support me and encourage me to believe in myself in ways I never had before. ‘Weak ties’ was a new term to me, introduced during a two hour long orientation program. Sure enough we are all connected on LinkedIn, but the bond we formed was more than that. When I was feeling homesick, my friends were a shoulder to cry on. When I needed to go to the dentist, my program coordinators were a local resource to contact. When I had no clue how to use Google Analytics, my co-workers were the experts to ask. From the time my boss gave me a ride so I didn’t have to take the bus, the time we rented a 10 person Airbnb in Galway and crammed 15 people in it, or the group texts that were always buzzing, these are some of the many things that made Dublin feel like home.
Without such a strong network around me in Dublin, I am not sure I would have been as successful as I was throughout my international internship experience. Diving head first into an international internship is scary; all of a sudden you are in a new office with new tasks and challenges being thrown at you everyday. It is nearly impossible to avoid doing at least one new thing every single day. However, it’s all for the best, because you are forced to immerse yourself in the experience. I only spent two months in Dublin, but I am sure I will keep in touch with many of my weak ties for years to come. Not just to use them for networking, but as a couch to sleep on if I ever find myself in Halifax, Los Angeles, or Philadelphia. Thank you Intern Group for helping these weak ties become friends for life.
Interested in doing a summer internship? Ireland might be the perfect place for your international experience. Learn more here.
Content and photos by Sydney Schulhof from Marquette University.