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The College Student’s Guide to Networking

I think we can all relate to that mild panic that hits you every time someone mentions looking for an internship or, if you’re super old (like me), a job after graduation. Online job positing sites seem overwhelming and you just know you’re going to lose out to that one kid with a 4.0 who founded a world-altering charity in 8th grade and also happens to be the son of the CEO.

BUT never fear because the power of networking is just a computer screen and phone call away.  Not only is networking a great way to learn more about potential jobs and industries, but having a personal connection with someone at a company can make a major difference when it comes to future hiring decisions. And Tulane students are lucky enough to have a great networking resource at our disposal: the thousands of Tulane alums who are doing amazing things throughout the US and beyond!

1. Use your Tulane connections to reach out to Tulane grads who are professionals in your field for informational interviews and advice

I’m going to say this one time: don’t be shy!! People are generally nice and excited to talk to someone else who understands the magic of Boot happy hour and Bruff cheese day. Start your search for possible connections on LinkedIn or Tulane-specific sites like Tulane Connect or Freeman Connect. You can even filter your search results by location or industry.

2. Draft a professional initial email or message requesting an informational interview

So you’ve found a list of rock stars in your field you want to talk to and now it’s time to reach out to them. Make sure to draft a friendly, yet professional, email introducing yourself and asking if they might have some time to schedule a brief phone call to discuss their job and answer some questions you have about their industry. It’s always a plus if you can be knowledgeable about their career path and demonstrate why you’re interested. Make sure to frame this as an informational interview to learn more about the field, not begging for a job/internship that they may or may not be hiring for!

3. Research, prepare and chat!

Start by Googling this person and their company to get a brief overview of what they’re all about and then come up with a list of both specific and general questions. Your conversation won’t necessarily have to flow like a traditional “interview,” it may be more like a friendly conversation. However it is always beneficial to have a list of questions to fall back on if you get stuck in that awkward phone silence everyone dreads.

4. Make sure your LinkedIn page is good to go and stay in touch

The last thing you want is for that super cool lawyer/doctor/marketing guru you just chatted with to add you on LinkedIn and see an outdated page complete with a picture of you clearly taken at 2 am on the Palms patio. Have a friend or parent check over your page for any typos and make sure you’re putting your best and most professional foot forward. And make sure to stay in touch—send a thank you email for their time and reach out again with any interesting updates or articles you think they would find relevant!

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