Two months ago, when I discovered that one of my intern assignments at Coca-Cola would be to help facilitate the “Never Dine Alone” networking program, I had no idea how I would go about filling the shoes of my colleague Amy Sparks, who co-created the program and has managed it since day one.
Now, a few months later after coordinating three events, I feel like a "Never Dine Alone" pro.
The program has helped me expand my knowledge of the Coca-Cola business and make meaningful connections with veteran colleagues.
Inspired by Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent’s FORTUNE essay by the same name, "Never Dine Alone" matches employees from different departments for casual networking lunches. The lunches happen on the last Thursday of every other month. Employees choose their preference for a lunch mate from a list of the company’s functions. From there, I randomly paired associates, doing my best to accommodate as many preferences as possible. Once each associate was matched, I sent an email introducing the pairs, and they scheduled their lunch time and location on their own.
Since the launch of the program in February, more than 100 employees have participated (plus more than 60 summer interns like me) in more than 400 lunches.
Jamel McMullin, an intern from Syracuse University, participated in the "Never Dine Alone" (Intern Edition) earlier this month.
“Never Dine Alone was a great experience. Through my encounter, I was able to make a connection in the industry that I would like to start my career in. If it weren’t for this program, I perhaps wouldn’t have been able to make such a wonderful connection,” says McMullin.
Margaret Brown from the IT department has participated in "Never Dine Alone" multiple times. When asked what she got out the program, she responded: “I am relatively new to Coke (10 months). At times, I feel disconnected from the rest of the company, so Never Dine Alone is a way for me to continue to network with others."
This program continues to bring employees together for networking opportunities as well as expand associates' collective knowledge base to improve their understanding of how our company operates. It is my hope that this program continues to be a success, as associates learn the importance of never dining alone.
Aaliyah Moore is a summer intern at The Coca-Cola Company