You are looking for your first job or internship and the competition is stiff. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of applicants applying for only a few positions. You don't know anyone who works in the industry you want to work in, and everyone else seems to have a connection. But, remember this: as a Gettysburg College student, you have those connections too. They are just waiting to be discovered and utilized through active networking with college alumni, parents, friends, and others.
Networking is a priceless skill in today's tough economy that could be the key to landing a dream job. “One piece of advice is to talk as often as possible about your plans to as many people as you can,” said Katy Mattson, associate director of career planning in the Center for Career Development. “You never know who might know someone who could be helpful in your search.”
This advice is something I can personally attest to. By mentioning to a friend that I was interested in public relations, she connected me with her cousin who worked at a top public relations firm in New York City. This was the connection that got me an internship working for Converse's public relations department the summer before my junior year. That same summer, I continued to expand my network by doing an externship with alum David Zapata '94, the President and Founder of Zapwater Communications, Inc., a premier boutique public relations firm in Chicago. This experience, set up by the Center for Career Development, allowed me to build a solid relationship with the company. I was hired as their full-time intern next summer.
Mattson also suggests finding someone who can help coach you through the networking process. “I can tell you through my tenure here that I've worked with many students who don't think they know of anyone who can be helpful, but by brainstorming with someone, they were able to identify key people in their search. In addition, the coach can help students fill in the gaps with their connections and access networking databases.”
These are just a few possible ways to build your network. Read below to learn more about student's successful networking experiences and their top networking tips.
Bruce Simpson '14
Hometown: New York, NY
Career goals: Starting two companies – a music production company with potential to turn into a record label and a music management firm/music publishing company.
Internships: Downtown Music (upcoming interviews with Sony Music and Spotify)
Networking Successes/Strategies: Simpson's friend's father knew the founder of Downtown Music and through that connection and the help of a Gettysburg alum, he was able to set up meetings and interviews with Downtown Music's top executives that eventually led his internship. He is now using these connections, in addition to help from other Gettysburg alumni to get interviews with Sony Music and Spotify for potential internships.
Top 3 Networking Tips:
1. Connect, connect, connect: When you meet someone, make sure you get a business card or contact information, no matter who they are. Then establish contact, preferably through email.
2. Keep in contact: Maintain consistent but not overbearing contact with the person you've connected with.
3. Keep it casual, but professional: Try to maintain a great relationship, but make sure to keep it professional when necessary and casual when appropriate.
Kara Meringolo '13
Hometown: North Kingstown, RI
Career goals: Finance/internal business/banking/strategy consulting
Internships: Citizens Bank Trademark Law, Citizens Bank General Counsel's Office, Capital Markets at Royal Bank of Scotland
Post-graduation plans: Deloitte
Networking Successes/Strategies: Meringolo has already secured a position at Deliotte in New York, NY upon graduation. She met with the career center to get alumni contacts in industries of interest and requested informational interviews, then followed up with thank you emails and handwritten notes. Gettysburg alumni forwarded her resume to their connections at Deloitte, who forwarded it to their connections in human resources, which led to her eventual hire.
Top 3 Networking Tips:
1. Informational interviews: Do as many as possible. It is good to hear a multitude of different perspectives regarding the industry you're interested in and it's great to receive feedback on your resume. Always close the conversation asking if there are others they could connect you with.
2. Be enthusiastic: It is very important to be enthusiastic and engaged in the conversation, whether on the phone or in person. Eye contact is especially important in person. Smiling is also important, even for phone interviews because you will naturally sound more pleasant if you are smiling while you talk.
3. Follow up immediately: Whether you're establishing contact after being introduced to someone or thanking someone after an interview, make sure to follow up immediately.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Article by: Emily Kleinburd '13, communications and marketing intern
Contact: Nikki Rhoads, senior assistant director of communications, 717.337.6803
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