Where Can I Go for Help?
Consult the Alumni On-Line Community, a database of thousands of University alumni who will answer questions about their jobs, employers, and other career-related issues. See the Career Center Web site for details.
Attend Career Center events, such as employer panels or presentations, and receptions. These events, which occurred regularly in the fall and spring, provide opportunities to meet alumni or other professionals working in your field of interest.
Join a professional organization or attend one of the many professional seminars, receptions, or conferences. Many large organizations either have a student chapter or offer reduced membership fees to students. Volunteer to help plan, publicize, or run an upcoming program. Assume a leadership role and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
Describe activities and subjects you enjoy to family, friends, and professors. Ask them for names of individuals in fields involving similar skills or expertise
Tips for Networking in Social Settings
In social situations, it can feel uncomfortable to interact with people you do not know. However, these are great opportunities to gather information from people who may have knowledge and experience in a career field of interest to you. Receptions, parties, and conferences are prime examples of social situations where networking can lead to information and opportunities. The following are some tips for networking in social situations:
Approach strangers and introduce yourself with a smile and a handshake.
Try to use an opening line based on the current setting, and try to end your opener with a question. That way you immediately have something in common to talk about, and it gives the other person the opportunity to talk. For example, "Isn't it great that university decided to put together this networking reception?"
Don't take it personally if you try to talk to someone and they do not engage with you after you have given it a good try. Move on and talk to someone else.
Wait for an appropriate opportunity or the end of the conversation to ask for a business card.
Maintain eye contact when talking to people. Eye contact communicates sincerity and interest.
Be careful about telling jokes. Do not tell ethnic, religious, sexual, or gender jokes. (Also be careful of political jokes.)
If you are interested in staying in contact with the person to whom you are speaking, suggest an opportunity for the next encounter (e.g., lunch, a conference, a gallery opening) and be sure to follow up. Key Points to Remember When You Make Your Introduction by Telephone
Tips for Successful Informational Interviewing by E-Mail, Letter, or Phone
Consider the following questions to select the right way to approach someone for an informational interview:
How comfortable am I speaking on the phone to someone I do not know?
What type of communication is the person most likely to respond to, e-mail or phone calls?
What is the person's role at the company?
Would it be best to talk in person?
E-mail can be a convenient way to introduce yourself to someone, share your resume, and ask for an opportunity to call or to meet face to face. Use a business letter format. Remember, you are seeking advice and information, no tasking for a job. Your goal is to gather information that will stimulate your job search and build professional relationships. E-mail should not be used as another form of mass marketing your resume.
Once you have made contact with someone in person, you can use e-mail to follow up, pass along information, or schedule another meeting. Remember that sending an e-mail to someone, although it's not face to face, will leave a lasting Impression.
What about the traditional letter? In some circumstances, a letter can be very beneficial for establishing rapport with someone. It may give them advance notice that you will follow up with a phone call. This is particularly helpful if the person you are contacting is in a senior position. Be sure to include your resume with your letter.
What do you say to individuals after you have decided how to contact them? It is wise to think of your introduction before you pick up the phone or click the send button for your e-mail. Here are some examples to consider:
Example 1- You have been referred by someone:"Good morning. My name is Janani Edirisinghe and I'm calling on the recommendation of Chamila Gunasekara. She told me at the South Asian Marketing Conference that you'd be able to give me some valuable insight on the (your area of interest).Do you have a moment?"
Example 2- You do not know your contact:"Good morning. We have never met. However, the reason I'm calling you is that I'm currently in a career transition and I am doing some research on how best to move into the (your area of interest) by talking to key people in the industry. Before I formally search for a position, I am looking for advice on how you would research the field and what you might do in my situation. Do you have a moment?"
Demonstrate a positive attitude.
Pronounce the person's name correctly. You may ask the person referring you or the receptionist. Always be polite to the secretary or receptionist answering the phone call. Every contact is important.
Make sure this is the right person to help you. Don't be afraid to ask, "Would you be the best person for me to speak to regarding?
Communicate your referral, if you have one, to establish something in common immediately. Indicate that the person you have contacted is valuable to your information-gathering process in preparation for your job search.
Be direct and state clearly that you are looking for advisor information, not asking for a job. By using words such as” research," "exploration," or "advice," you will communicate this to your contact.
Always ask if the individual has a moment to speak with you or if you should call at a more convenient time.
When Meeting Someone in Person
Send your resume in advance. Most employers prefer to know your background ahead of time. When you send/e-mail you resume, attach a note indicating that this is an informational interview. Remind the person when you will meet. If appropriate, indicate how you got their name.
Come prepared with questions. It is your responsibility to ask intelligent questions within a 20-minute time frame (unless invited to talk longer). Ask only for information that you cannot find on your own.
Request feedback on your resume, but do not be surprised ifyou receive conflicting advice. If your reader cannot figure out what your skills are, revise your resume. Every field has its own jargon-ask how you might change your resume to make it sound like other documents written by professionals in the field.
Learn how any disability you may have relates to the work tasks required and the office environment. Seek guidance before the interview from a career advisor.
Let one person lead you to another by requesting the names of other individuals you might contact. Being referred in this manner is the best way to network. Your phone call or e-mail to the next person will be more warmly received when you are referred by someone that person knows.
Write a thank-you note within one week of meeting or talking to a contact (the sooner, the more memorable). The Career Center's handout "Cover Letter and Thank-You Letter Writing" provides tips. Maintain contact with the professionals you meet by calling ore-mailing periodically. Report your progress and ask their advice.
Sample Questions for an Informational Interview
How did you get into this line of work? What has been your career path?
What was your academic preparation?
What skills do you need to be successful in this job?
What types of positions do people with my major have in your organization?
What electives can I take now to be better prepared for a career in this field?
I am thinking of changing my major-what other fields match the skills and interests that people in this line of work generally possess?
Have you made a career change?
If yes, how did you make it?
How is your organization structured?
What are the most important issues affecting your organization?
What is the hiring procedure when vacancies occur?
What are the salary ranges and benefits for a position?
What magazines, newspapers, or journals do you read to keep up with your field?
What associations or professional membership organizations do you find useful?
Do not call your university / college alumni to ask them for a job. They are a resource for information about career fields, organizations, or moving to a new geographic location.
When you get your university / college alumni on the phone, ask if they are willing to speak to you and if you have reached them at a good time. If they are not willing to speak to you, thank them and get off the phone. If they are willing to speak to you, but it is a bad time, offer to call at a better time.
Introduce yourself as a current student or recent graduate of the university / college, and let them know that you are looking for career advice from someone who works in the field. Explain that you found their name in the Alumni On-Line Community data base.
Have your questions prepared in advance and do not take more than 10-15 minutes of the person's time.
Follow up with a thank-you letter.