Ask the Expert: How Mentoring, Internships and Networking Take You to the Next Level

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We’re back with another expert on Ask The Expert! We caught up with Courtnie Harris Anderson, a senior accountant at Sheppard–Harris & Associates. Outside of auditing non-profit organizations and government agencies at the state and local levels, she oversees the internship program in the office.

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With a natural niche for networking, Anderson believes networking and finding a mentor doesn’t have to be complicated. We caught up with her to understand how easy it all can be.

Giselle Ave. (GA): What is the importance of social media networking vs. networking in real life?

Courtnie Harris Anderson (CHA): Most people begin with social media first, maybe because it feels easier. A social media presence is necessary but real life events are important because people always experiences more than a profile.

GA: What are employers looking for when it comes to internships and previous experience?

CHA: Personally, I’m looking at how a candidate is dressed, how they speak in professional settings, their social media presence and being likable in the interview. I’ve noticed previous experience is something college students and recent graduates struggle with, but that’s why internships are important. It’s good to start building connections as early; it’s the key to future success.

GA: So what makes a killer interview?

CHA: A candidate kills the interview when they’re able to speak about themselves and what they can bring to the table. They should know background information about the company and role you’re interviewing for, and have good questions prepared for the interviewer. Preparation is a major key, from interviews to internships to networking. Always be prepared to shine!

GA: How can people use their mentors and network to get to the next level?

CHA: I saw a great quote the other day and it relates to this so much:

“You need a mentor in your life who is not threatened by your elevation.”

A good mentor is going to be established and can expose you to new things in your industry. They can connect you; you never know who they know who can help, hire, etc. They should be able to tap into your talents and add to your network.

GA: What are some things people should look for in their mentors and network?

CHA: Look for someone who has time to devote; time is a necessary element. Also, find someone who is established in their profession so they can provide knowledge and connections. As far as a network, of course it will be mostly comprised of others in your same industry but basically anyone is open to trading information and resources can be a part of your network.

GA: What are some dos and don’ts of networking and seeking mentorship?

CHA:  Be your authentic self; people can tell when you’re faking. Have a clean social media presence! Bring business cards to networking events and follow up with the people that you meet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be more vocal about what you need because you never know who can help you. The world is small. Old classmates, young professional organizations, alumni associations and Greek letter organizations are great starts for networking. Opportunities are everywhere!

To find out more about Sheppard-Harris & Associates, visit their website. To reach out to Courtnie, connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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