The power of networking through internship

Marissa Marshall,
Staff Writer

If there is one thing my internship with the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks has taught me, it’s the power of networking.

I have the opportunity to work at the Staples Center in an industry filled with professionals and successful individuals who hold positions I envision myself filling one day.

But when given these opportunities, what do I do with them? Do I go through the motions? Do I get intimidated by the success? Do I get star-struck?

My answers to all three of the questions: no.

When in this type of position, composure and professionalism are essential. Working hard and putting your best effort into everything you do is essential. It’s important not to look at people who are above you and be intimidated by them or envy them, but instead envision yourself at their success level one day.

There is no time to be star-struck or overwhelmed. Take the opportunities at hand and market yourself, introduce yourself, get to know the person, and make them want to get to know you.

In one word, network.

Jabari K. Smith, a Corporate Partnership Executive with the Los Angeles Sparks, wrote the book titled ‘Life’s Playbook’ and stressed to me the power of networking and creating strong relationships with people.

So far his teachings about how to network, the correct way to speak to people, and helping me gain interviews with professionals to help me in my career, has been one of the most impactful things I have experienced throughout my internship.

Without networking, the goals you plan to achieve can become a lost cause. Who you know is important. You can’t always do everything on your own and networking can help you learn and expand your own horizons.

These horizons expand when you learn more than you knew before and when you start to approach things differently. Maybe it’s in the form of an interview, knowing what you should wear, stumbling upon an opportunity that you didn’t know existed, or contacting a person that you previously weren’t able to reach.

For me, that person was Jemele Hill, the host of ESPN’S ‘His and Hers’ and the ‘Six.’ She is also my idol.

I never thought I’d meet Jemele before I actually worked in the sports industry, but networking put me in the position to not only meet her but have a 30-minute discussion with her and show her my work. She also gave me tips and advice on how to remain true to myself while pursuing a prominent spot in the sports industry.

I met Jemele at the ESPN studio in Los Angeles when I was on set of ESPN’s ‘Sports Nation,’ one of my favorite sports talk shows. The reason I was at ESPN studios in the first place was because of networking. Being friendly and talking to everyone, I was introduced to my new mentor, who is the producer of ‘Sports Nation’ and allowed me to visit the set.

I learned that it’s powerful to introduce yourself to anyone you meet because you just might stumble across one of your idols and take a tour of your dream job.

Before entering my internship I knew networking was important, but Smith taught me the ins and outs to it and encouraged me to refine the way I approach people, which helped open many opportunities for myself.

I’m excited to go back to school at California State East Bay and see how these newfound interpersonal skills can help me network in the Bay.

I was aware of the opportunities in the Bay Area and at East Bay, such as the TV studio in the library, which offers equipment that I can use to help put together video reels for my portfolio. I just never took advantage of those opportunities.

I understand if I do not open my mouth, I will remain stagnant. From here on out, networking will be my new best friend.