Although this may be relatively redundant to upperclassman on the job/internship hunt, networking is essential to your pursuit. It’s a unique resource to utilize when searching for jobs, internships and overall general advice in your chosen (or not) career path. In the four different internships that I’ve had in the last three years, 100% of them have come from networking. I’ve used UCAN, my parents and my sorority to reach out to as many possible people as I can in a wide variety of different industries. Although I am still not sure what exactly I want to do after college, talking to people about their own experiences helps to at least get a feel for what I could be doing in the real world.
In moments where I have been in full, complete, total panic mode, I can admit to sending approximately twenty emails or more to alumni on UCAN. In the first round of emails, a lot of people fail to respond which can be crazy discouraging. It feels like you’re not worthy and kind of a loser for putting all this time and effort into a email that goes nowhere. Yet, it’s important to continue to reach out even if you’re ignored the first time, in order to really convey your interest in speaking with the individual. It can be embarrassing and you may feel like you look like a desperate harasser, but it has the potential to end positively. There have been situations where I’ve emailed a woman three to four times in a row, just because I know she’s bad at communication. On the fifth email, she finally responded and it ultimately ended in an internship offer.
This may sound obvious but once you hook them into a conversation…BE PREPARED! When just starting out, I kid you not I asked someone about their experiences within the financial industry when they were in marketing and had never seen a day on Wall Street in their life. LinkedIn is a great resource that literally supplies you with almost anyone and everyone’s resume, so use it!
I feel like people tend to push networking to the side because there isn’t a concrete finish line. You really don’t know if anything will even come out of the conversation, except for a few tips on perhaps boosting your GPA, rewording your cover letter or rephrasing a bullet point on your resume. However, an important thing that I’ve learned throughout my absurd amount of informational interviews is that you have to be confident enough to ask for what you want. Every phone call you take, you should come away with at least one or two other contacts. Sometimes people even offer to help out, without any nudging or elusive questions regarding “what the next step is.”
And, of course, remember to send a thank you note at the end. But hopefully you already knew that!