Lauren Israel (@LaurenIZrael on Twitter) is a senior at the University of Arizona. If you like this post about networking strategies at career fairs, check out her professional blog, Motivational Mondays.
Picture this: You’ve finally found a career path that interests you. In order to find the right position, you start to research companies within the industry. Say you find a company in particular, that strikes your attention as a place you could see yourself working. After taking necessary steps to put together a resume, references, and ultimately, a portfolio, you sit wondering how you can catch this company’s attention. In fact, as a young adult you may wonder, “How do I get the attention of any company?”
I remember sitting in your shoes wondering the same thing. A misconception exists among college students that it is impossible to find a paid internship or full-time job that one is interested in after graduation. If you believe this, I guarantee you will not succeed in the job market. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the words “good luck, it’s tough out there” or “nobody is hiring right now” from recent college graduates. To be honest, hearing things like that motivated me more to find the right position at the right company. I am someone that molds uncertainty into action. If you can stick to that mindset, you will make progress in your field of interest.
Success is gratifying, but it is definitely a challenge to get there. As a college graduate, success revolves around graduation itself and finding a job. We all know how you get to the actual graduation part, but how do you get the job? The best way, I have found, to get a job or internship is to get and stay connected. Many young people strive to make their own connections, but you should never be afraid to ask a friend, family member, or teacher if they have connections in your industry of interest. I have gone as far as to ask new acquaintances if they know someone in advertising or marketing. There is no harm in asking, right? Right.
I was surprised to hear from my new acquaintance that they did indeed have someone I could connect with for an informational interview. After having success in simply asking, “Can you connect me?” I decided to find other tools to get connected with people in the advertising and marketing industry. My goal was to build a CRM – or Customer Relationship Management Excel Sheet — that would help me stay connected and current with people I meet in the industry.
There are three tools I have used to help me find connections. They are:
- Face-to-face communication
- Career websites
- University career fairs.
Career websites like Internships.com can be a fantastic way to reach out to recruiters and human resources within companies. I have been contacted by various companies in the past by simply sending my resume to a particular job listing. Also, I attended the University of Arizona Career Fair where I met representatives from Target, Yelp and Zoosk.
Target actually asked me to come in for an interview, but it was not for the job of my choice. Instead of throwing out the offer, I asked the HR person if she could connect me with anyone in brand development. By simply asking, “Can you connect me?”, I potentially opened the door to a new opportunity within the company.
90% of schools have career fairs where students can network with business professionals. You may not find the job of your dreams, but like me, you could find a connection. Through staying current with my connections, updating my resume and continuing building my online presence, I was able to get the internship of my dreams at a global PR and digital communications company. If I can make my professional dreams come true as a young graduate, so can you.