Communicating with Industry as an Undergrad Employee at the IOL

 As someone who has been working at the IOL for around 7 months, I found it hard to communicate with vendors at first. I have never really had to communicate with other professionals before and it seemed really stressful at first. I decided to make this blog as a way to inform newcomers at the IOL how to communicate with vendors and make this part of the job stress free. While working at the IOL, one of the many important skills that you’ll need to acquire is how to communicate with a vendor. Being able to communicate with vendors is not something that is easy to learn and can take a long time to develop skills. Although this can sound intimidating, if you follow a few different tips and techniques I’ve learned along the way, you’ll learn that it’s not as bad as it seems. 

One of the first ways you will communicate with vendors is through email. My biggest tip for emailing is to make sure to have a coworker proofread your draft beforehand. Having a peer proofread the email will minimize the chance of mistakes while also providing new insight on ways to make it sound more professional. To maintain a professional voice when writing, it’s important to include a  greeting, thank them for their time, and create clear and concise guidelines for what it is you are asking them to do. This helps show them you care while also maintaining a strictly professional relationship. Following these guidelines will make it easy to communicate with vendors through email, but there are also other ways to communicate.

Additionally, you can communicate with vendors in person. Vendors will visit the lab for testing and other responsibilities such as tours, or checking in on progress. When a vendor is visiting, it’s  recommended to dress in a professional manner. This includes not bringing a sweatshirt and sweatpants, and wearing jeans or khakis. Although the IOL does not have a dress code, if you’re interacting with companies, there is always a chance to be remembered for future opportunities. In the future, you could get recommended for a job or internship, so you should always look the part. While communicating, make an extra effort to make sure the vendor feels welcome and safe. It’s important to act mature and professional so  the guest feels comfortable around the IOL, and hopefully in turn, they’ll  want to come back. Your main goal while communicating with vendors is to make sure they are satisfied with our services so they’ll be more inclined to reuse them. 

Communicating with vendors is relatively easy but I’ve found that the hardest and most important part is disagreeing with the vendors. Here at the IOL we strive to keep vendors happy and satisfied, disagreements can strain that relationship. Oftentimes something can go wrong and both sides are in disagreement over the problem. One important lesson is that both you and the vendor are not always right. If you have evidence that the vendor is incorrect about something, present the evidence to them and maybe after some hesitation they will agree with you. That being said, it’s important  to make sure the vendor is left satisfied so if it’s a simple check they want you to run or a minor inconvenience, then there shouldn’t be any reason against it. With more industry experience, sometimes vendors will know more than you and an outside perspective is always beneficial when solving problems.  

When communicating with vendors, it’s always important to thoroughly convey your message and make sure the vendor is satisfied with your response. The best way to do so is by e communicating directly with additional help from coworkers and mentors. As long as you act respectful and professional, there should be no problems. As long as you remember these tips throughout your time at the IOL you shouldn’t have any problems communicating with vendors. Goodluck throughout your journey here and remember to always be respectful.