Recently, I received a very insightful question from an applicant to Atomic Object. They were considering an internship and were wondering if a small company would have as many networking opportunities as a larger enterprise-size company.
I think this is a great question, especially for an internship, when the focus should be on building relationships and learning. I’ll give my advice on how to get the most out of networking at Atomic Object.
To start, it helps to have a goal in mind. Reasonable goals for interns are things like, “find mentors,” “make connections to find a full-time job,” “find someone who can help me create a conference talk,” or “learn more about how other companies work.” Starting networking with a goal in mind may be non-spontaneous and controversial, but I find it helps me stay motivated and feel like my efforts are worthwhile.
Opportunities for Networking at Atomic
In my experience, working at Atomic has provided a wealth of networking opportunities. There are very obvious ones, like creating connections with coworkers, but also much more exciting and structured opportunities.
One example is Atomic’s outreach and philanthropy program. Through this program, Atomic supports the local developer and business communities. In Ann Arbor, this includes things like Tech-trek, SemJS, and many other meetups. The Ann Arbor tech scene is very vibrant, and there are many meetup events. Folks from Atomic are often in attendance, and I’ve found it really helpful to be able to go to these events with them, instead of alone.
When Atomic is a sponsor of an event, I find that people want to talk to Atoms. Instead of me initiating every conversation, they will seek me out, which can be easier and less awkward. The content of these events or talks is often informative as well (an added bonus).
In this same vein, many of our more senior folks at Atomic Object are on boards or advise other companies, so they can be a unique source of information. This is usually the case at enterprise companies as well, but creating relationships with these people as an intern would probably not be possible at larger companies.
Although Atomic’s clients should not be offering you a new job, they can be connections and offer a different culture and perspective. Many of the clients I’ve worked with have added me on LinkedIn and remain in touch.
It’s less clear to me how these relationships will evolve. But there may be something I need from them one day, or they may come back to Atomic looking for more consulting, so I’ve tried to maintain those relationships.
Blogging at Atomic Spin
This final example may seem odd at first, but it’s probably the most powerful networking tool: the company blog. It may not fit your idea of networking, but it has absolutely worked for me. I’ve had many, many people reach out to me on LinkedIn and over email about blog posts I’ve written. Some of my blog posts have gathered hundreds of impressions, which is more than I could ever achieve by one-on-one, in-person networking. It’s not as strong of an impression, but it still has an impact.
Additionally, if/when I leave Atomic, these posts will stay on Atomic Spin. I can include them on my resume or point to them in an interview as a way to show expertise to other employers.
Frankly, I think the connections one makes at Atomic and in our sphere of influence will be deeper and more meaningful than one could get at a large, corporate system because folks are so engaged at Atomic.