Using online resources for networking is one of the best ways to find jobs and internships. You might be thinking, "It seems like a lot of work and I don't know where to begin!" But if, like many students, you're already using Facebook, you're halfway there.
Professional Networking Sites
Similar to social networking sites such as Facebook, professional networking sites allow you to invite friends and coworkers. By connecting with friends and coworkers, you can also see who is in their network to identify people you may want to talk to. Many of the sites also allow you to search for new contacts at companies or industries that interest you. Some allow you to contact them directly via email or, in the case of Twitter, real-time "tweeting."
Try these professional networking sites:
- LinkedIn - Invite friends, coworkers, and supervisors to join your network, receive recommendations from people you've worked with, and search the over 100 million professionals already on the LinkedIn network. Find jobs using the jobs and employer directories.
- Twitter - Follow and have real-time communications with hiring managers and working professionals in your career area.
Listservs and Professional Associations
In addition to professional networking sites, you can join industry-specific listservs and professional associations online. Many professional associations offer student memberships, have listservs and career webpages that include job and internship opportunities, and post events such as networking mixers, conferences, and meetings on their websites.
Young professional networks or professional association college chapters or student societies are also a great way to meet people just like you who are starting out in the field. Some examples: Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, Public Relations Student Society of America, and American Marketing Association Collegiate Program.
The Career Center's @cal Career Network
Last but not least, did you know the Career Center hosts an online database with hundreds of alumni who have offered to give career advice to current Cal students and fellow alumni? It's called the @cal Career Network. You can search for an alum at a specific company, or by occupation, major, or location.
- Don't limit yourself when identifying people to contact:
- Search for professional and alumni contacts by different criteria, including educational background, company, career field, location, etc.
- If you find a contact who works at a company you'd like to work for but their particular job doesn't interest you, it can still be helpful to contact them. You can learn more about the company and get additional referrals within the company.
- Think broadly about who to contact. For example, if you majored in psychology and aren't sure what to do with your degree, try looking for people who majored in related liberal arts fields such as sociology, cognitive science, philosophy, mass communications, etc. to see what they've done with their major.
- Make contact: Once you've found someone you'd like to connect with, contact them via email and ask for an informational interview, either in person or over the phone. In your email, include where you found them (e.g., @cal Career Network or LinkedIn), why you are interested in talking with them (make sure to keep the focus on getting information rather than asking for a job), and that you would like to set-up an informational meeting with them for 20-30 minutes.
- Prepare ahead of time: Do your research ahead of time to learn more about what they do, where they work, and develop a list of questions to ask them.
- Ask for referrals: At the end of your informational interview, ask if there is anyone else you can speak with or that they can refer you to so that you can continue to build your network.
- Follow-up!: Don't forget to send your contact a thank you note (PDF) and to get in touch again once you've followed some of their advice.
With a whole "world wide web" of opportunities, developing your network is now at your fingertips. Get online today and make some connections!