Networking is a necessary tool to access the informal job market. There are multiple ways to begin your networking process.
This type of networking is taking place all the time, everywhere you go! Each person you meet presents an opportunity to build a relationship and learn more. A more formal type of in-person networking might include career fairs, employer information sessions, networking events, conferences, professional association meetings, and informational interviews.
Online networking offers access to individuals whose path you might never actually cross in real life. Utilize sites like LinkedIn, Handshake, and other social media to locate and initiate connections with people within your field(s) of interest. Typically, these websites will provide you with access to a professional’s email for you to set up an informational interview (see below), or just introduce yourself. Follow up on online conversations with in-person meetings, if possible. If that is not possible due to geographical constraints, try to schedule a phone call or Skype/Teams/Zoom call.
An informational interview is a conversation in which the job seeker requests a conversation with someone whose professional role they are interested in learning about—perhaps someone who works at a company or position of interest. As the job seeker is initiating contact with the professional, it is important to be prepared with thoughtful questions. A 30-minute conversation is an appropriate length of time to request for an informational interview, which you might initiate via email, LinkedIn message, or phone.
A request for an informational interview might sound like this:
Dear Dr. Last Name,
I am writing in the hopes of speaking with you to learn more about your career in psychiatry. As a sophomore Biomedical Sciences major at Marquette University, I am in the process of researching potential career paths I may pursue after graduation. I see from your LinkedIn profile that you also studied biomedical sciences during your undergraduate career at Marquette, and I am interested to hear how you made the decision to pursue medical school and eventually the field of psychiatry. Please let me know if you would be available for a 30-minute conversation. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to speaking with you soon. If you have any questions about me or my request, do let me know.
First Name Last Name
You should come prepared with thoughtful questions so that your informational interview will be meaningful for both you and the person you are interviewing. If you do some research before your informational interview, the conversation will be more productive for both parties. Try to personalize the questions you ask based on the person you are interviewing so that they feel you have taken the opportunity seriously. Remember, you are trying to make a positive first impression with someone who might be helpful to you in your future career.
An elevator pitch is a very concise introduction of oneself and may vary depending on the situation and type of professional. This pitch will help you initiate an intelligent and effective conversation with new professional contacts.
There are three pieces to an elevator pitch:
- Where are you now? (degree, program, year in college)
- Where have you been? (career-related experience, leadership experience, part-time work experience)
- Where are you going? (future goals)
If you are at a career fair, you may add:
- What you know about the organization which shows your interest in their company specifically
- A question to start the conversation
“Hello, my name is Alex. I am currently a Sophomore at Marquette University, and will be graduating in May of 20XX with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Corporate Communication. As a student I have had the chance to gain leadership and organizational skills through my involvement as the Vice-President of the College of Communication Student Council. In addition, I have worked for two years as a server at the Annex, allowing me to gain valuable customer service experience. I am seeking an internship in the field of public relations next summer. Would you be able to share with me any opportunities within your organization that might fit with my skills and experience?”