By: Tony Li
As a rising senior getting ready to embark on my final year in Questrom, I wanted to provide a bit of perspective and impart advice to rising juniors, sophomores, and even incoming freshmen, to enhance their career development.
- Go to networking events
If you haven’t invested a portion of your time in networking, you should start to do so on a weekly basis. It might be hard for some people at first, but set a goal that applies to your situation that feels manageable and begin there. For example, go to 1 networking event or have 1 networking conversation per week. Once you get used to it, you will be much more comfortable to meet new people and attend networking events.
- Make connections with professionals in your target company
Once you know what industry or company you want to work in/with after graduation, you can start to make connections in either space. Using tools like LinkedIn, Questrom Connect, the Career Advisory Network, etc. you can search for alumni in your targeted company or industry and begin to connect. Starting with alumni usually warrants a higher response rate and can be an easier, more comfortable place to start than cold emails. Once you are connected to someone in the firm, ask to do an informational interview. At the end of the interview, if you are still interested and wanting to learn more, ask him or her if they would recommend you speak with anyone else in the firm or in industry who they may know. While an in-person meeting is always the most idea, it’s okay to connect and “meet” over a phone call too.
- Follow up with your connection(s)
This is where you can really differentiate yourself. Follow up with people you meet at networking events; connect with online, or in any other situation. Let people know you appreciated their time and advice. Thank them within 24 hours of your meeting. If you choose to do a hand written note, remember to send a brief email thank you as well for a more immediate appreciative gesture. After the thank you note, the follow-up is not over! Keep a list of your new network contacts and get in touch periodically to stay fresh in their mind.
- Don’t take on commitments just because you think they’ll look good on a resume
One thing that I learned from my junior year is to focus on doing things well instead of doing a lot of them. I joined a lot of clubs and organizations and while I got a bunch of stuff to put on my resume, the experiences didn’t necessarily help me get any closer to my end goals. I struggled a bit with balancing my academics and activities, especially while in CORE where it became even more difficult.
There are a lot of ways to spend your time in college, but one of the most important things is to begin to define and understand what your end goal is. It’s important to not only do things to achieve that goal, but also do things that can help you begin to define what that goal even is. Don’t simply pick something or do things because they “look impressive”. Do things because you genuinely like them and thus by their virtue, get you closer to your goal.