Even though the academic year has just begun, internships and jobs are already on everyone’s mind. With so many applications and interviews, the process can seem exceptionally daunting. However, there is a SUPER easy way to make your application stand out and boost your odds of getting hired: networking!
By definition, networking is interacting with current professionals in the field that you’re interested in and learning more about their experiences and career paths. While networking can seem intimidating, it is the key to finding an internship that is perfect for you and increasing your chances of getting a job or internship. Here is my guide to successfully networking:
- Make the initial connection
To begin the networking process, think about the people you already know. Are your relatives, friends, or professors involved in the career you’re interested in? Begin by asking your closest connections if they know anyone in the field you’re interested in. Oftentimes, by establishing a personal connection with a professional in your field of interest, they are more likely to speak with you and respond to your emails. Beyond that, you can use tools like Linkedin or Brown Connect to reach out to more professionals at the company or field you’re interested in. I’ve often found that Brown Alumni are super excited to talk to current students interested in their career path.
- Perfect your email template
Once you’ve decided who to reach out to, the next important step is how. When networking, it’s important to reach out to a wide variety of people, so it’s a good idea to craft an email template that you can send out to multiple professionals. The key information you need to include is your name, school, year, major/potential major, how you found the person/why you’re interested in talking with them, a few potential times to chat, and your email and phone number. This is my template:
Hi Mr. Doe,
My name is Sophie Jaeger, and I am currently a sophomore at Brown University studying history and economics. I am extremely interested in applying for an internship in XYZ field/company, and I would love to hear about your career path and experience at XYZ company. I got your contact information from my Dr. Smith, who was my economics professor last semester. Are you around at all later this week to chat? Afternoons from 1-3pm typically work well for me, but I am flexible. Feel free to reach out at 123-456-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s also a good idea to create an email signature so your email phone, number, school, and major are already attached to all of your emails. Also be sure to include a short subject line in your email like “XYZ Company Internship” or “XYZ Field Potential Intern.”
- Create a question list
n order to successfully network, it is important to be prepared. While a networking call is not an interview, it’s still important to put your best foot forward and make a positive impression. A great way to do this is by pre-writing questions to ask or doing some research beforehand, so you can have a fruitful conversation. It’s a good idea to start by searching for the person you’re going to speak on the internet with so you can get a feel for their background—Where do they work/have they worked? How long have they been in the profession? What other relevant experiences may they have? LinkedIn is a good place to find this information. It’s a good idea to also craft some more general questions about their experience. While some questions may be specific to a certain field, here are some good examples of questions ask:
- Tell me about your background.
- How would you describe the culture at XYZ?
- What does your role look like day-to-day?
- Do you feel like you have strong mentors at XYZ company?
- What does the typical day or workload look like for an intern or junior colleague?
- What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field?
It’s a good idea to write these questions (and any others) down beforehand so you don’t blank on the spot!
You should also be prepared to create an “elevator pitch” about yourself. An “elevator pitch” is about a minute long summary about yourself. This is a great thing to practice because oftentimes during networking calls (or interviews), the other person will inevitably ask “Tell me about yourself.” Here is my “elevator pitch” that I used in several of my networking calls and interviews:
My name is Sophie Jaeger, and I am currently a sophomore at Brown University studying history and economics. I am originally from Old Greenwich, Connecticut, which is about an hour from New York City. I love Brown’s open curriculum and liberal approach towards education, but I know that after college, I want to pursue a career path that will help me build my technical skill set. This is one of the reasons I am interested in pursuing a career in finance. Additionally, I love the idea of working in a fast paced yet collaborative environment with some of the largest companies nationally and globally.
- Be Engaged and Take Notes
When you’re on the call itself, it’s super important to be engaged and friendly. If you’re meeting in person or over a Zoom call, make sure you’re dressed professionally, your background is neutral, and you’re in a quiet space. During the call, it may be a good idea to jot down some notes of what they’re saying in response to your questions, so you can compare and contrast with different professionals at different companies.
- Thank you email
Congratulations! You finished your first networking call! Now, it’s time to send a thank you email. In this email, you should a) thank the person for taking time out of their day to speak with you b) state how helpful/interesting the conversation was c) add in a specific detail that stuck out to you (here is where your notes come in!) d) potentially ask them to connect you with someone else at their firm. Point d is exceptionally important because this is how you continue to build your network of contacts in a certain industry or at a certain firm and boost your odds of receiving an internship offer. Writing a thank you note will also leave a good impression in the mind of the person you spoke with!
- Update Spreadsheet
Lastly, it’s always a good idea to keep track of your contacts and who you’re speaking with. I recommend creating a spreadsheet with the name of the person you spoke with, their contact information, the date you talked to them, the company they work at, and a few brief notes about the conversation! This way you have an easy way to keep track of all the networking you have done!