The biggest piece of advice I could give to any student is to take advantage of informational interviews. Here are some great tips from PR Daily on conducting them in person, but since I want to move to the DC area, most of mine have been over the phone. I’ve experienced times where I would send out 9 emails and only hear back from 1-2 people. But if you make that one connection, and stay in touch consistently, you’d be surprised to see how far it will take you.
How to Start?
- Look through the school’s alumni network, google companies you would like to work for and use LinkedIn to find contacts.
- Go out on a limb – I wanted to learn more about media relations at a corporation so I emailed the person whose job I thought sounded most in line with what I wanted to know more about. I sent an email and the next day we had a 30 minute conversation about her job. I had nothing to lose and now I have a solid contact who could potentially help me with advice and the job hunt in the future.
- Send your resume, especially if you’re a senior.
- Have questions prepared and save answers from the informational interview for future reference.
- Tailor some questions to their company and their work that you’ve researched through their website.
- This isn’t a job interview so you’re asking a majority of the questions, but be prepared if they want to know more about you. Always be prepared with your elevator speech.
- Stay in touch – I’ve made it a habit to spend at least 30 minutes a week strictly for networking emails to connect with past internship supervisor, follow up with professionals and reach back out to people I’ve met at career fairs and conventions to let them know how I’m doing and so that I stay in their radar in case an opportunity arises. Also, I’ll email at least 3 people a month who I am trying to build a new relationship and set up informational interviews.
- Take their advice to heart so when you send the next email, set up another phone call or meet in person, let them know of your progress and that you’re taking this career path seriously.
- Ask him/her to look at your resume and/or cover letter.
Everyone’s been in your position before and professionals know what your goal is in contacting them, and usually want to help. If anything, they respect your tenacity in reaching out. The biggest key in networking is keeping up these relationships. Try that and you’ll be amazed at how far it takes you. Happy networking!