networking, noun, the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. oxford languages. 

Ever since I started college that’s the one word people keep throwing around, “It’s all about networking”, “Gotta develop your network”, “The only people to get jobs and internships are the ones with a network”. 

I’ve grown to despise the term.

To a college freshman, networking is posting your Linkedin to a Discord Channel and adding them all to your Linkedin. Of course there are friends to be made in school, but classmates are just as new to navigating the tech world as you are. Don’t even get me started with the 300 people lecture halls and trying to form a "connection" with a professor. 

In any other scenario, it’s always felt so disingenuous. The vibe of Linkedin and trying to network there, talking to people while both parties know that it’s all a professional facade that’s fronting.

hackNY changed that for me. 

On the evening of move in day, we had all settled into the basement of our residential hall, ready for orientation. No button down shirts, no dress pants, just us, on a big couch, in our natural states. Our mentors (shout out to Kevin, Sakib, Diane, Rahma, and Erin <3) started filling us in on what we had gotten ourselves into. 

After a raucous round of icebreakers, I thought to myself, yeah, I can vibe with this. 

We spent the rest of the summer just, chilling. We did our internships in the day and did whatever the hell we wanted at night. Late karaoke nights out, playing videogames, checking out new places and learning about each other. Twice a week we had events with some serious talent in the tech industry and learned about accessibility, rehabilitation, and what it means to work in tech. 

At the end of the summer, hackNY hosted Demo Night. On paper it was a professional event, the fellows get on a stage and talk about our summers and we shout out everyone who made hackNY happen. In reality, it was the best night out I’ve ever had my entire life. We partied hard during and after the event, and I ended up having my exit interview with my mentor (ily Kevin) at 5am the next day. 

I don’t hate networking anymore. Meeting the friends of my friends is networking, playing videogames with new people is networking, getting lunch with someone you spent a summer with years ago is networking.

If you’re in college and looking for a chance to break into the tech industry, to make a splash and engage with some of the most talented people in the scene, apply for hackNY! Applications for the summer of 2023 are open until February 17th, 2023. Hope to see you then :)