Networking is essential no matter what industry you work in because 80% of today’s jobs come of it. Meeting people face-to-face, sharing what you do, and making connections is not just a way of the future, it
the future. Companies would rather hire from within because it’s easier for them to go with a familiar product than start from scratch with a new one, and you can very easily be that familiar product that gets the jump on a new job.
Although everybody’s heard of networking, trying to define it is a little trickier. Networking is definitely not going up to every Tom, Dick, and Harry you see and shoving your business card in their faces. Good networking requires more finesse, such that while both parties might know it’s going on, neither will directly say it’s happening.
The art of networking looks a lot like small talk in that when you meet someone in that situation, it resembles small talk. You’ll both ask each other about your jobs, your interests, and your aspirations, and before you know it, you’re preparing for an interview. The key to landing that interview is to never actually say that’s what you’re looking for. Instead, focus on your passions and what sets you apart. You can think of networking offline as going through mini, casual interviews where you get to practice your skills before the big interview takes place.
It can feel odd to keep trumping up your skills in public, especially if you’re a shy person. But if you just remind yourself that if you don’t do it and 10 people behind you will, that can be just the motivating factor you need. Just make sure you don’t speak like you’re reading off a list of your experiences and accomplishments, as the art of networking involves subtlety. For example, if you’ve met Bob at your grandmother’s birthday and find out he’s a photographer, casually mention that you’d love to pick his brain because you’ve been taking pictures since you were 8- years-old. And when Bob agrees, use this as your chance to segue into what you’ve been doing to further your skills and where you want to take it in the future. Just remember that while you’re still keeping the focus of the conversation on Bob, you still need to mention what makes you special.
Although it may seem like you’ll never get the awesome internship that everyone else seems to, following these 40 ways of thinking and acting will bring you that much closer, that much sooner.
As a job seeker, it’s only a matter of time before you head into an interview and are asked for references. It’s just your prospective employer’s way of making sure you are as awesome as you say you are. But having to back up your claims by asking a former employer for a reference letter can be a little nerve-wracking—unless you handle it the right way.
First, ensure that the person you’re approaching will actually be able to say something good about you. If you were late to work half the time, not productive when you were there, and quit before you could get fired, it may not be the best source for a reference letter. Approach an employer, or even a family friend, and mention why you think they’d be best suited to write you a reference letter. While you can’t tell your referee exactly what to write, you can ask them to highlight certain skills and points about you that would be relevant to the job you’re trying to get. Of course, thank them once they’ve written it and mention your appreciation.
If you’re asked to write a reference letter to someone, remember that your words can make or break their employment. By writing a reference letter the right way, you could be the difference between them and another candidate getting the job. Remember to start the letter by stating who you are, what your qualifications are, and what your relationship is to the person the letter’s about.
It’s also important to note that writing a reference letter full of superlatives is not only clichéd, it’s ineffective. Instead, focus on the impact the person made and how their presence bettered the company. Use detailed examples of their work and why it was excellent. As in writing a novel, it’s key to show, not tell.
Ask the person you’re writing the letter about for the job description of the position they’re applying for. This way, you can highlight their character traits, relevant history, and impact more appropriately. Make comparisons between the person and the general population so the letter reader can root the candidate’s prospective abilities concretely. And lastly, don’t exaggerate or be vague or brief. Not only is your reputation on the line, but also the candidate’s. It’ll benefit nobody if you don’t stick to the truth or skip out on important information.
If your passion is photography, trying to find an internship at a zoo probably isn’t the best way of going about things. Not only does it have almost nothing to do with your career aspirations, but your inevitable lack of enthusiasm will come across, leaving both you and your boss wondering why you’re there.
If you want an internship that’ll challenge you and provide a good stepping- stone to a career, spend some time looking up the companies in relevant industries. It’s easy to name Microsoft and Google as companies in the computer industry, but they’re not the only two. Browse the web for a half-hour each day and find out who the players in your area are. After that, research exactly what they do, what they’re looking for, and how you can fit.
There are thousands of websites out there that can help you narrow down the search of internships based on city, company, paid/unpaid, length, and required skills. There are also even more garbage sites that just want to spam you, steal your information, and give you nothing in return. Learn to differentiate between the two, and use the ones that matter.
You’re never going to get an internship if people don’t know who you are, so start sending emails and making calls. Explain what you find so interesting about the company and how your skills would be a good fit. Ask what you need to do to apply, and then follow their instructions to the letter. Really good companies get a ton of applications and you don’t want yours to be the one that’s thrown out because it doesn’t comply with specifications.
When applying for internships, act like you’re already there. This conveys a sense of readiness and professionalism, vaulting you ahead of the majority of applicants. And while companies may not comment on this, you can bet that they’ve noticed. By tailoring your resume, cover letter and wardrobe to the place you want to intern it, it shows you’re able and willing to be a good intern.
Your high school GPA counts for a lot when you’re applying for an undergraduate degree, especially if you’re thinking of top tier schools like Princeton or Dartmouth. Ivy League universities have an embarrassment of riches to choose from, and for better or worse, your GPA is the first cutoff criterion. If your number isn’t high enough, you probably won’t make it to the next round of selections. But as you keep going down the list all the way to community colleges, having a stellar GPA matters less and less.
How important your GPA is for applying to top tier undergrad programs is the same for graduate school. Have a less-than-stellar number, and your chance of acceptance goes down. This is doubly true if you’re looking at a professional program like medicine or law, where every applicant was an undergrad star.
At this point, your GPA starts to move to the background in favor of other intangibles like attitude, experience, connections and character traits. GPA can matter if your internship is tied to a course you’re taking, as you may have qualified for it based on your grades. But for the rest of internships, bosses are more interested in how you can benefit the company. Instead of asking if you faced that American History course, they’re likelier to ask you how you aced a tough work situation.
Here’s where your GPA matters least and intangibles matter most. In most job interviews, employers will ask you where you see yourself in the future, what you have to offer, how you solve problems, and what your learning and working styles are. That’s not to say your GPA doesn’t matter at all, but that it’s just one part of a really big picture. What matters more is that you were an involved student during your college years, taking part in clubs and organizations and giving yourself to volunteering. Something like creating a project that helps the homeless shows a lot more creativity and initiative than finishing first in an upper-year biochemistry class. But you shouldn’t ignore your GPA entirely, either, as having a high one usually reflects discipline and dedication, two highly valued job qualities.
You don’t have to like social media, but you should recognize that it’s the way of the future. Accept it, and move along with the opportunities. Refuse to, and you very greatly stand the chance of being left behind. With LinkedIn boasting of 160 million members worldwide and growing each day, there is a wealth of networking opportunities waiting to be discovered. And despite critics and fans being sharply divided over the efficacy of LinkedIn, there’s no denying its reach.
Social media is only as good as you make it. Spend time crafting your image, and your professionalism and maturity will show. But use it as a photo album to display how you never moved past your wild frat days, and you can count your job opportunities goodbye in less time than it takes to flick off a light switch. It may sound like an artificial construct—and in many ways, it is—but think of it as a dynamic, real-time version of your resume. Select a good, smiling photo of you from the shoulders up, use your full name, and list
your professional experience. Putting up things like your past paid and unpaid positions is good, while posting your interests is not.
Now that you’ve got good profiles on all the important sites, start making connections. Grow your LinkedIn and Google+ networks, be active in forums and groups, and make your presence felt. Be vocal about what you’re skilled in and that you’re actively pursuing a career in that industry, but don’t be pushy. And never ask someone directly for a job. Employers are most drawn to people who lead full, well-rounded lives, not desperate job seekers as the latter makes bosses think a candidate is only applying because they need to pay the bills, not because they’re passionate about the company.
The saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is most true in social media, where attention spans are 140 characters short and everyone moves onto the new shiny object as soon as it appears. If you’re not constantly maintaining an online presence, you’ll be passed over and forgotten in favor of someone who does. Check your accounts regularly and never stop reaching out.