It is going to be hard for you to leverage a network of unemployed people. There is a downside to the dynamic, ever-changing economic landscape created by the Internet: Lots of companies are going out of business. One classic desperate move at failing companies is to bring on interns to do the work that used to be done by paid, trained employees. If you aren't being paid, there is no reason to go down with the ship. Even if you forge a meaningful connection with staff members as you all go down together, they are going to be tied up for the next several months getting new jobs. Add in the time it takes for them to be in a position to recommend someone for a hire, and you are likely a year away from gaining meaningful contacts from a failing firm. If you are learning something, then by all means fight through the last days, just don't expect a speedy response from references who are busy staving off the soup line.