It’s been awhile…

So, clearly it’s been a few weeks since I last wrote on “PR and Political Communication Commentary,” and there are a few reasons for that…

1. I started “Levels: A Journey Through Food and Fitness,” a blog that I’ve been planning for quite a while. In the past year, my passion has really become cooking and fitness, and I wanted to document that through Levels. The idea behind Levels is that food & fitness is a journey; therefore, each recipe comes with options to “level up” and make it healthier or “level down” and make it a little less healthy or more appealing.

2. This blog started as a way for me to discuss topics in the public relations and political communication world and establish myself as I was job searching. Now that I’m gratefully employed as a Public Relations Coordinator for ATI Physical Therapy (a job that I love!), I’m constantly honing my public relations skills and writing all day long! For now, I’ve decided to really focus my energy on establishing myself in the digital space through guest blogging, including regular posts for Pitching Notes.

3. I’m no longer Abby Stollar! If you’re a faithful reader, you know that I got married this summer and therefore changed my name. (In true PR fashion, I wrote about what wedding planning can teach you about public relations earlier this year.)

My plans for abbystollar.com – unknown! It was a huge part of my life as an undergraduate and allowed me to showcase my experience and PR knowledge during my job search. Therefore, I can’t bear to take it down just yet.

I’m still tweeting about PR and social media on a daily basis and keeping it fresh over at Levels, so be sure to connect with me there!

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Pump up your pins with captions

Sometime last week, I came to a realization: If I had to choose between Facebook and Pinterest, I think I’d take Pinterest. Sorry, Mark Zuckerberg. You can have your likes, but I’ll take my pins.

Anyone else out there feel the same?

But, considering that Pinterest is here to stay, it’s time to change the conversation from “if to use Pinterest” to “how to use Pinterest effectively.” In this arena, food bloggers have a lot to teach us social media managers.

Let’s take a lesson from Chocolate Covered Katie. CCK is one of my favorite food blogs — from her “healthy” dessert recipes to her endless sense of humor. And, it just so happens that CCK kills it on Pinterest. Take a look…

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She prompts readers to click the pin simply from the “teasers” she puts in her captions. I mean really, how can you resist clicking something that 100s of commenters have said may be the best secretly-healthy pancakes they’ve ever tried? Or something that may be the most repinned pin on Pinterest?

Besides actually having quality-looking visuals (which are very important!), CCK entices pinners with her irresistible teasers. So, here’s what CCK can teach you about your brand’s Pinterest strategy:

  1. Caption your pins. Never, ever pin something without a caption if you legitimately expect to be repinned.
  2. Be creative. Know your audience & speak to them. Give your brand some personality through utilizing your captions section.
  3. Think like a photo caption editor. If option A is “the world’s best cookie dough” and option B is “healthy cookie dough that may be the most repinned recipe on Pinterest… hundreds have commented that they can’t resist!”…which option would you chose? You’ve got 500 characters — use them, baby!

Got it? Good. Now, go over to CCK, pick a recipe of your choice, make it, and enjoy — it’s sure to be delicious! 🙂

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Avoiding Unemployment: 3 essential steps to the job search

As I mentioned, this is the last post in my “Avoiding Unemployment” series. It’s extra special because not only does it close out my summer series, it’s also written by my first-ever guest blogger! John Muscarello, a fellow young PR pro, recently founded Start Networking Today a blog about Creating Strong Connections in Life, Business, and Social Media. Today, he stopped by here to share some tips on how to start a successful job search.

Image courtesy of piercemattiepublicrelations.com.

3 Essential Steps To Take Before Job Searching

 Before Job Searching Step 1:  Update Your LinkedIn and Twitter Profiles

Before you start contacting potential employers make sure your social media profiles are updated.

LinkedIn:

Twitter:

  • Follow companies that you would like to work, and put them into a Twitter list (make sure to click private).  You will learn a lot about the company by following them on Twitter, and possibly find job opportunities.
  • Tweet relevant industry articles to show that you know the current trends. Remember that every tweet you send is searchable.  Some of your tweets might even appear in a Google search.

Before Job Searching Step 2:  Setup Google Alerts

Take the list of companies you followed on Twitter and create Google Alerts for them. This will allow you to do two very powerful things.

  • Before applying to the company or going on an interview you will have the latest company news.  This will help you ask smart questions to the interviewer and it shows you did your homework.
  • Companies constantly announce when they win or acquire new business.  If the piece of business is big enough there is a good chance the company will need additional employees.  Find out who the hiring manager at the company is and send them your resume and cover letter.  Tell the hiring manager that you saw the company won new business, and why you would be a good fit to help on the account.

Before Job Searching Step 3:  Reach Out To Your LinkedIn Alumni Group

The alumni of your university are always looking to help new graduates, if you ask the right way.  The important thing to remember is you are not asking for a job.  You are looking for advice and to make a future connection.  This will also help you build a strong network.

  • Go through your LinkedIn Alumni Group and look for people who work in the same field you would like to work.  Send them a message similar to the one below (you can do this since you are both members of the same group).

Dear (Name), 

My name is John Muscarello and I am seeking a job an Entry Level Public Relations opportunity at a dynamic organization where I can grow. I have a great work ethic, a positive attitude, and I am very motivated. 

I see that you hold a position in Public Relations and wanted to know if I could send you my resume and cover letter to get the opinion of a professional in the industry.  I would greatly appreciate any advice you might have about breaking into the industry. 

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

John Muscarello

Email

Cell Number

Even if you are only able to accomplish one of the strategies above it will put you miles ahead of the other applicants.  If you apply all three of the steps above, the other applicants will never catch you!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about the steps.

John (at) startnetworkingtoday.com

John Muscarello is founder of Start Networking Today a blog about Creating Strong Connections in Life, Business, and Social Media. He is a Public Relations Account Coordinator at Lippe Taylor, and coaches individuals on how to network and land a job. He also helps his dad market the family business. To learn more, visit his website at www.startnetworkingtoday.com or connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter

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Avoiding unemployment: Try everything.

Next up in my summer series, “Avoiding Unemployment,” is…try everything! (Spoiler alert: This is the second-to-last post in my summer series. Next week’s post will feature the my first-ever guest blogger on PR and Political Communication Commentary and will focus on searching for internships and jobs. Check back next week to find out who’s writing and what he/she has to say!)

You’ve heard the cliches that college is the time “to find yourself” and “experience everything.” Although that cliche can mean many different things, in my professional experience, it’s more than true. Internships are the way to learn what you like and, more importantly, what you don’t. 

Remember those Girl Scouts badges you got when you were a Brownie? They were called “Try It” badges. Because you were young, you were encouraged to try everything to help you decide what you liked and what you didn’t. Internships are no different — they’re all about “try it.”

Internships are like being in Brownies — you have to try it! (Image courtesy of store.girlscoutsindiana.org.)

Here’s my “try it” story. (I don’t mean to launch into a personal diatribe, but I believe my story may mirror your own…or inspire you to get out there, take a chance, try something new, and make your future career better for it.)

During my first internship at a credit union, I discovered that my favorite part of the job was working with nonprofits regarding our corporate sponsorships. Therefore, the following spring, I contacted the individual I had met at the nonprofit we worked with (that’s why you’ve got to network, people!), and she connected me with someone at my local American Cancer Society chapter. I worked at ACS the following summer and continued to enjoy the nonprofit world. I thought I had found my niche.

The following school year, I interned at another nonprofit, Autism Delaware, and gained more experience in the nonprofit sector. As a self-proclaimed “bleeding heart,” I just loved the nonprofit world — all those people not working for money but for the good of humanity — I couldn’t get enough of it.

The fall of my junior year, my professor and my mentor throughout college looked at me and told me to get an internship at an agency. She told me she thought I had what it takes to make it in the fast-paced, deadline-oriented agency world. Even though I was doubtful that I could love anything more than the nonprofit world, I decided to try something new and apply for an agency internship.

And, thank goodness I did! The summer before my senior year I worked at Inside Out Creative (now the IOCreative Group), and I can confidently say I learned more about public relations and communications in the first week of my internship than I had in all of my other internships combined. (P.S. Notice that I said more about “public relations and communications.” I learned so much at both my nonprofit internships that have greatly contributed to my professional life, and I am so grateful for those experiences!) I realized that my true love really was communication and public relations, and I wanted my future position to revolve around a lot of writing and communications. 

So, good thing I took that chance. I loved the fast-paced agency world. But, I still had another love I just couldn’t shake — politics.

It’s why I applied (and was accepted) to the 2012 Legislative Fellows program, where upperclassmen and graduate students from the University of Delaware assist legislators and staff during session. From January through June of this year, I had the opportunity to work for the Delaware House of Representatives Democratic Caucus and staff the House Administration, Gaming, and Government Accountability committees. I learned so much about how government really works — and I learned that I definitely didn’t want to go into politics. 

So, good thing I did that fellowship. Before my legislative internship, I was convinced that I loved public affairs and government. The truth was I loved analyzing government (I had also spent a summer as a research assistant in our Center for Political Communication), but I didn’t love politics. Unfortunately, the two are inevitably linked together. However, the internship was so valuable — you definitely can’t learn about government from a textbook; you really just have to be there to understand it. I’m thankful I had that opportunity to do so.

After writing this, I realize maybe it was fitting that this was a bit more about me than intended. As the last post of this series, this is my story. It’s the story of how I interned, interned, interned until I learned what I liked and what I didn’t. It’s the story of how I learned a lot at the internships that I loved, and it’s the story of how I learned a lot at the internships that I didn’t love as much. It’s the story of how I had a myopic view of what I wanted before I had actually tried new things out. It’s the story of how I tried everything.

It’s the story of how I, in the end, successfully avoided unemployment. What will your story be? 

(Comment below or send me an email at abbystollar@gmail.com, and let me know if you’ve found my “Avoiding Unemployment” series helpful. Your comment could be featured in a future post!)

 

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Avoiding Unemployment: Write your resume.

In my series on avoiding unemployment, we’ve learned about business cards, informational interviews, how to dress professionally, and much, much more. But, buckle up, because today’s post is about the dreaded resume.

Before I start, let me ease your mind: The resume isn’t as important as you think. Yes, it’s an important part of your job search. Yes, you have to have one. Yes, it can set you apart (in a good or bad way). But, no, it isn’t going to get you the job. It’ll get you an interview, at best.

Regardless, I’ve read a lot about resumes, talked to a lot of professionals about resumes, and worked for hours on my own resume. I’m not an expert, but I did avoid unemployment. Here’s the resume I used when job seeking this spring…

Ten tips for a resume worthy of avoiding unemployment…

  1. Get someone else to spellcheck your resume: It’s no surprise that you need to spellcheck your resume. But, the trick is to get someone else to spellcheck your blessed piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. If you’re serious about getting a job, you’re going to put hours into your resume, which means you’re not going to see all of the mistakes. This is true for everyone — even my grammar police out there. (Trust me, I am a proud member of the grammar police, and I had a mistake or two in mine that I missed.)
  2. Leave off the objective: It seems to be a contested part of the resume, but I say — just leave it off. It only wastes space and tells the potential employer nothing about you or your skills.
  3. Make use of the whole page: Margins, baby! If you’re like me and had A LOT to include on your resume, make those margins smaller than an inch. The whole page is yours, so do with it as you please.
  4. Quantify, quantify, quantify: The best advice I ever received is quantify everything on your resume and include as many numbers as possible. That’s no small task for a communication major! You want to show what you’ve done not what what you were responsible for. As a warning: this is the hardest part, and it’s going to take you awhile to figure out how to quantify things. But, it’s so, so worth it.
  5. Break it up: Make it as easy as possible for a potential employer to see who you are by quickly looking at your resume. I decided to use the categories of “education,” “internships,” “leadership experience,” “research experience,” and “related experience.” On other versions of my resume, I also included a “honors and awards” section. You can use whatever categories work best for you!
  6. Take off unrelated positions: Unless you really, really have nothing else for your resume (and I know that’s not true — see #8!), take off anything that’s unrelated to your career field. If you can’t quantify how being a camp counselor will help you at a potential position, then leave it off.
  7. Be okay with leaving things off: It’s hard — I know. I did a few other things in college that aren’t highlighted on my resume. At first, it was really, really hard to leave them off. But, be okay with showing the employer the most important things you’ve done, not all the things you’ve ever done.
  8. Word it right: I always tell people that they’ve done more than they think they’ve done. Include volunteer work, on-campus activities, and/or a part-time job on your resume IF you can show how it relates to your field. This may take some brainstorming, but just think of all of your projects and tasks and see how they can be related. If you are the philanthropy chair of your sorority and a PR major, include that you’ve planned two events for over 150 individuals that raised over $2,000 for charity. BAM — now, that’s resume-worthy.
  9. Have multiple versions of your resume: I know, I know — as if doing one isn’t enough! For me, I had at least two different versions of my resume: one that highlighted my public relations experience and another that highlighted my government/public affairs experience. In addition, I normally tailored it for every position depending on the job description. Don’t be afraid to play up different strengths for different positions.
  10. Keep track of what you’ve done: The best advice I can give anyone (especially those who are just embarking on their college career!) is to keep track of what you’ve done at an internship or job. You think you’ll remember everything you did, but in a year or two, you won’t — which makes it pretty hard to write a resume. At the beginning of my internship, I started an Excel spreadsheet and took two minutes at the end of the day to write down what I did. Now, I’ll always have a log of quantifiable achievements from those internships. (I wish I would have done this at my first two internships!)

Some of my favorite sites for resume advice include YouTern, Corn on the Job, and Brazen Careerist. Check those out on a regular basis to write a killer resume!

 

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Avoiding Unemployment: Get professional clothing.

Next up in my series “Avoiding employment” — professional clothing. We’ll talk through fashion faux paus (I’ll even dish out one of my own — yikes!), what clothes are essential, and how to find professional clothing on a budget.

Get the essentials.
It’s no surprise that professional clothing can be expensive. It’s pretty common for a nice tailored blazer to have a price tag of $80 or more. When you’re working on a tiny salary (or no salary at all if you’re doing an internship for credit), $80 isn’t going to fly. Trust me, I was there — I know. However, I learned what I should spend my money on and what I could save some. Here’s a basic list of what you need (for ladies):

  1. A neutral colored suit (black, gray, navy) — Yes, it’s going to be expensive, but this is one thing you can’t go without. In the words of Barney Stinson, you need to “suit up” if you’re going to make it in the professional world. So, save up and purchase yourself a nice, neutral-colored suit that you can wear with a lot of different shirts, jewelry, etc.
  2. Professional pumps — Invest in at least one pair of nice, neutral-colored shoes that pair with your suit. (I bought a pair of Steve Madden black pumps at DSW for less than $50, and I wore them for over two years until they got really worn out.)
  3. Two to three tops — Purchase at least two or three professional tops that you can wear with your suit or on its own. It’s okay for these to have some color and flair — whatever fits you best! Just be sure they’re not too revealing — any cleavage is a big no-no.
  4. Two bottoms — At the least, get a pair of nice black dress pants and a skirt. If you’re smart, you’ll get something that matches your suit!

Where to spend
Spend on your suit and your shoes. These two staples are essential to any job interview or professional presentation, so bite the bullet, find something you like, and spend the money. You’ll be happy you did.

Also, don’t be afraid to spend on a nice skirt or pair of pants. I’m really petite, so I know that if I find a quality skirt or bottoms that fit, I should buy them. Some of my favorite places to find bottoms are The Limited and the Banana Republic Outlet (both offer petites!). Because their clothes are typically higher quality, they’ll last you much longer than something you find for cheaper at H&M or another store.

Where to save
Tops and jewelry — You do not — I repeat, you do NOT — have to spend $50 for a necklace that goes with one outfit. Or even $20 for that matter. Just don’t do it. There are plenty of other places to find nice, fun jewelry (such as Kohl’s or Macy’s) that’s much cheaper.

In addition, I never spend a lot for tops. Whereas you can wear bottoms over and over again, you only wear one top every so often, so I try not to spend too much on professional tops. While stores like Express and The Limited can be expensive, they normally send out coupons that make their tops much more affordable. (Bonus tip: Like  The Limited on Facebook — they’re always giving their fans deals!) My other favorite staples are Ralph Lauren button-ups that I found on sale at the outlet and a few pieces from New York & Co, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. Of course, H&M has some great tops for really cheap.

Finally, look at what you already have. Your sundress may not be appropriate for the office, but when paired with a blazer and ballet flats, you can make it work for the office. You can also pair many of your existing tops with a blazer or pair of dress pants for work. (However, remember that for an interview — you always have to go with a suit!)

What to avoid

  1. Anything revealing: I feel like this is saying don’t have pictures of you partying on Facebook — it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you have cleavage, put it away for the workplace.
  2. Leggings: Say it with me — leggings are not pants. Leggings. are. not. pants. When you go to a networking event or anywhere else where dress is business casual, put those leggings away. They don’t count as pants — and it doesn’t matter how long your shirt is.
  3. Crazy shoes: I love shoes — what female doesn’t? But, the best advice I can give is to always wear comfortable shoes. You never know what you might be doing at an internship, and it might involve a lot of walking (especially if you’re in a city). If you can’t avoid donning your newest heels, consider slipping a pair of flats into your bag. That way, if you need to run out, you can just change really quickly!
  4. Going out clothes: Be sure you know which clothes are okay for the workplace and which ones aren’t. A rule of thumb: if you would wear the outfit to a bar, you probably shouldn’t wear it to work.
  5. Leggings: I’m saying it again because this was my fashion faux pax (It pains me to admit this, it really does.) At my very first internship, I thought it was appropriate to wear leggings and a long sweater with Uggs to work during the winter. (Cue gagging noise.) Luckily, my manager tactifully pulled me aside and had the “leggings are not pants” conversation with me. Never made that mistake again — and I hope you don’t either!

    Courtesy of PRSSA.

How do you dress professionally on a budget?

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Avoiding Unemployment: Always write thank you notes.

Next up in this series about avoiding unemployment: Always write thank you notes. Not thank you emails. Or thank you tweets. Or thank you inbox messages. I’m talking old school, handwritten thank you notes.

I promise you — this is what will set you apart. For every five people that read this, I’d guess one of you (maybe two if you all are super ambitious!) will actually do this. And that one individual will be the person who successfully avoids unemployment.

Now, I don’t have statistics on this, but I do have my own success story for avoiding unemployment — and it includes a lot of handwritten thank you notes. (Do with that anecdote as you please.)

Image courtesy of Google Images.

In case you’ve forgotten what it means to communicate in a world of more than 140 characters, here’s what you need to write the perfect thank you notes…

  1. Invest in some blank cards. The first step is to buy a few blank notes that reflect your personal brand. Some people will tell you to purchase some blank notes monogrammed with your initials — which is definitely a great idea. (I’ve never actually done this, but I’d recommend checking out Vistaprint if you’d like too — you could order your business cards at the same time!) However, if you’re on a budget or just aren’t sure how to start, head to the closest grocery/drug/general store, go to the card aisle, and pick up a few packages of blank notes. (TJ Maxx is actually one of my favorite places to find great notes for reduced prices! I’ve also been able to find some quality blank notes at the Dollar Store — you can’t beat eight for $1.00!) It doesn’t matter exactly what they look like, but my best suggestions are to look for something that’s simple, professional, and reflects you. (Hint: Avoid notes with hot pink envelopes.)
  2. Know when to write. Handwritten notes are supposed to be somewhat unique, so you don’t want to write a note to someone every time you get a business card. However, if you go on an informational, internship, or job interview, you better start writing!
  3. Keep it brief and professional. Not sure what to write? My best answer is stick to three sentences. In the first sentence, thank the individual for their time/interest/etc. In the second sentence, mention something unique to the interview. (If it’s an informational interview, reiterate a great piece of advice the professional shared. If it’s a job or internship interview, highlight one quality you discussed in the interview that would make you a good candidate for the position.) In the last sentence, address an action for the future. (If it’s for a job, write about how you’ll follow-up with a phone call, email, etc. If it’s from an informational interview, I recommend saying that you look forward to connecting again in the future.) P.S. Always begin with “Dear Mr./Ms.” and end with “Sincerely, ______”
  4. Make it personal. Don’t let it become forced and stiff! Let your personality show through a little bit and always try to recap something that you talked about.
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Avoiding Unemployment: Stay in Contact.

Now that you know how to get (and give out) a business card and initiative informational interviews, it’s time for your next step in avoiding unemployment: stay in contact with your network.

It sounds obvious. But, in your busy world of balancing classes, homework, studying, extra-curriculars, workouts, meetings, and of course, making time for friends, staying in contact with your network often becomes a low priority in comparison to everything else. Here’s how to make sure you fit it into your busy schedule with everything else:

  1. Create a spreadsheet. While networking may be more art than science, ensuring that you stay up-to-date with your network can be more science than art. I created a Google spreadsheet and everytime I met someone new, I entered their name, position, email address, and any other relevant information I may want to remember. (For example, a place they previously worked, a fun talent they have, etc.) I also recorded any time I had contact with them, whether it be an email, networking event, or informational interview.
  2. Don’t call on your network just when you need them. The secret to staying in contact is just that — staying in contact all the time, not just when you’re looking for an internship/job/potential opportunity. A spreadsheet helps you see how long it’s been since you’ve connected with someone. I’ll periodically check my spreadsheet and if it’s been a while since I talked to someone, I’ll drop them a quick email just to say hi and check in.
  3. Use social media to your advantage. Don’t limit yourself to just email or in-person exchanges to build your network. Send a LinkedIn message if you see someone got a new position or posted an interesting update. Comment on their recent blog post. Retweet or respond to a tweet from someone in your network. I created a list in Twitter with someone of the top individuals and companies in my network, making it easy to monitor their updates.

    A great infographic for staying connected on LinkedIn.

How do you stay in contact with your network? Share your best tips in the comments below or tweet your thoughts to me at @abbynicole1204.

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Avoiding unemployment: Perfecting the art of the informational interview

For the last few weeks, I’ve been dishing out my best tips about how to avoid unemployment. From getting a business card to reading up on industry news to establishing an online portfolio, I hope you’ve started to get some ideas about how to successfully avoid unemployment.

Busy and don’t have quite enough time to do everything all at once to prepare for your career? I understand. So, here’s your call to action in big, bold font:

If you do nothing else, there is one thing I would highly, highly recommend that you do: informational interviews. And, start them now.

Lucky for you, I have a few quick tips on what they are, how to set them up, what to expect, and how to use them to advance your career!

What they are: An informational interview is just that — an interview with a professional where you get information about them, their job, and their career path.

How to find professionals: Your informational interviews should be with professionals who work/have worked in the industry you’re most interested in. Here are some great places to find them:

  • Alumni databases: A lot of career centers at universities offer a free database filled with information about alumni — where they work, what they’ve done, and how to get in contact with them. Letting someone know you’re an alum of the same school they are is a great way to make an initial connection!
  • LinkedIn: This is a gold mine of potential contacts. Look for professional groups to help identify potential interviewees. For example, I’m part of the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Delaware group, which has about 180 members, and so this winter, I went through and sent many of them a LinkedIn request. I personalized it (don’t you dare send a LinkedIn request without personalizing it first!) by introducing myself and my background, mentioning that I’m also part of the PRSA Delaware group, and would love to follow up sometime for a quick meeting or chat to learn more about what they do. The responses were overwhelming — and almost everyone agreed to meet with me!
  • Networking events: Now, this is where those business cards come in! Get yourself to some networking events. Whether they’re offered by professional societies, chambers of commerce, on-campus organizations, young professionals group, or another type of group, sign up, go there, and start meeting people! (Most events offer student discounts to attend. In addition, go to on-campus pre-professional societies to look for opportunities. For example, our PRSSA Chapter was allowed to send two students to monthly PRSA Delaware meetings free of charge!)

    Image courtesy of Google Images.

How to ask: Be polite and professionals, and always mention that you’re a student interested in learning more. (You are NOT asking for a job at all.) If it’s an email or LinkedIn message, here’s a good template:

  • “Good morning, Mr./Ms. ___________; I’m _______, a student at ___________ studying ___________. We met at _______, and I just wanted to follow up with you.  I’d love to learn more about your job in the ______ industry, as well as your career path. Would you be willing to set up a short meeting with me either in-person or by phone in the coming weeks to chat with me? I look forward to hearing from you, and I appreciate your time.”

How to prepare: Remember, informational interviews are informal, but they’re a great opportunity to practice interacting with a professional. My best advice is always wear professional clothing (even if you’re just coming from class and meeting them for coffee at a local cafe) and do your research. Know what they do and past places where they’ve worked.

Ask questions: You asked to meet with them…so be prepared to ask questions! Some questions I like to ask include…

  • What is your favorite part of this industry?
  • What is your least favorite part of this industry?
  • What’s your best advice for someone looking for a job/internship in this market?
  • What do you look for in job candidates? (if they do the hiring)
  • What types of industry publications do you read?
  • What is the most important skill in this industry and how do you develop it?

Let them talk. You’ll be surprised at all the things you learn! Avoid talking too much about yourself, but do let them see a little of your personality and who you are. Always be genuine.

Thank them. Chances are that this person is busy — really busy — and they just made time for you in their day. Thank them in person. Follow up with a thank you email and even a handwritten note. (We’ll talk about thank you’s in another post!)

Informational interviews are an amazing opportunity to learn, and you can only use the “I’m a student and want to learn more” card for so long. I started getting serious about doing informational interviews during the fall of my senior year and had completed about 25 by graduation in the spring. However, my best advice is — start early. The more you learn (and apply what you learn!), the better chances you’ll have to avoid unemployment.

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