Like me, you probably find yourself researching the UGA Academic Calendar to locate all the holiday break dates. Those days are highly anticipated and get highlighted, circled, and starred on everyone’s calendar because we know we’ll get just that - a break! This means a break from school, part-time jobs, and a long list of student organization responsibilities. As those dates finally arrive and we make plans to chill and veg out on Netflix, we must understand that our competition is likely also taking a break. Use this to your advantage! It really is important to step upyour networking game over the Holidays. From updating your resume to reaching out to industry professionals, make the most of your holiday break.
1. Open Up
First and foremost, when it comes to networking, it is important to open up. Now this may seem like a no brainer, but I know there are some of you who plan to avoid conversation with family at annual gatherings at all costs. Change those plans to include sharing with family and friends about what you’re learning at school and what your career aspirations include. Be very clear about what you’re looking for and what companies you’re most interested in; they may have valuable connections to whom they can introduce you.
2. Put Your Free Time to Work
Update Your Resume. Use this extra free time to update your resume. With all the busyness of school, sometimes the last thing on your mind is updating your resume to reflect that internship you participated in this past summer or the shadowing opportunity you had earlier in the semester. Once it’s updated, make plans to get it critiqued by your Career Consultant.
Send Inquiry Emails. In addition to updating your resume, use this time to send job or internship inquiry emails to recruiters or potential employers. After all, these folks are more likely to answer or at least see emails during this time! Check out this Inquiry Email example as found on page 36 of the UGA Career Guide:
Dear Mr. Bond,
I am writing to make you aware of my interest in working/interning at (organization/company name). A copy of my personal resume is enclosed for your review. (Include 3-5 reasons why you feel qualified to be considered for a position). Should a position become available at (organization/company) I would greatly appreciate your consideration. If you have any questions or would like to speak with me further regarding my qualifications, please feel free to contact me by phone at (706) 555-4321 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send an email to Request an Informational Interview. An informational interview is an opportunity for you to spend time with someone who is a professional in a career field of interest to you. It can help you build your network, tap into the hidden job market, and learn more about a specific company. As the name suggests, it is an “interview.” However, YOU are the one asking questions to a professional in a career field of interest to you. While there are a wide range of questions you might ask a professional, the UGA Career Center has provided a list of 23 questions to get you started, as well as a sample script you can use to ask for an informational interview (see page 21 of the UGA Career Guide). You may be thinking, “This sounds great and all, but how do I get connected to these professionals?” My answer: LinkedIn Find Alumni Tool. This tool allows you to research the careers of over 128,000 UGA Alumni! You can search where they live, where they work, what they do, what they studied, what their skills are and how you are connected.
3. Don’t Make It All About You
Finally, don’t make networking over the holidays all about you. Don’t walk up to - or call, or email, or tweet - a friend, family member, or industry professional and ask for a job on the spot. Take time to ask family members about their major choice and career progression. During informational interviews, ask professionals: How did you get your start? What do you love about your job, and what do you wish you could change? By taking a genuine interest in your contact, you will make them feel valued and interested in continuing the relationship.
These may sound simple, but take it from me: If you utilize this time effectively, you’ll be way ahead of everyone else.
Happy Holiday Networking Everyone!