Last week, I attended a fun student-alumni speed networking event at Penn State Brandywine where I spoke to students about interview tips, networking tricks and job search advice.
Not only did I love representing Garden Media as a proud PSU alumna, I was inspired by the students’ enthusiasm and willingness to invest in their futures.
As with many of the talks we give to students about attending networking events, applying for internships and going on interviews, there was a common theme among the questions asked.
Here is a list of those top questions with tips for students:
Continue reading for common networking questions.
1. How do I figure out what industry to pursue?
Most students attending these talks are at a crossroads in their educational careers. Many are also figuring out how to break into a new industry after graduation.
Advice: The best way to learn more about an industry is to speak directly to professionals already working in that field.
Not sure what major to study? Need to get a feel for a field you think you'd like? Email a professional working locally and ask to meet for coffee.
These casual, informational interviews can help you in a variety of ways. In addition to helping you make decisions about your career path, it helps extend your network and even lead to a job down the line.
Outline your expectations in advance and take notes! And, if you can swing it, offer to pick up coffee as a thank you. (They probably won't accept it.) Either way, write a thank you email AND a hand written thank you note after your meeting. Also, connect with them on LinkedIn so you can be sure to stay in touch.
2. How do I make myself stand out?
This is a really common question. In a sea of applicants, it is imperative to make sure you stand out from the rest.
Advice: The most important thing students can do is start building and nurturing their contacts. Education, skills and GPA are extremely important, don't get me wrong, but a connection with someone who works in the field or at a company you’re interested in is gold.
Don’t be afraid to message contacts on LinkedIn or send them an email directly.
Another great way to stand out would be to make sure your online brand is up-to-date and professional. Update your LinkedIn, increase followers on social media and even create a personal website that outlines who you are and what skills you offer.
3. How do I sail through an interview?
We've all been there. You've sent what feels like hundreds of resumes and haven't heard back from anyone. Getting the interview is the hard part.
The good news: Excelling at the interview is easy!
Advice: Do your research, ask interesting questions and always, ALWAYS follow up.
Companies want to see that you’re prepared and you’ve done your research. It’s easy to demonstrate this through the questions you ask during your face-to-face time with your potential new boss.
Always be yourself. Interviews are a two-way street that helps determine if you’re a match for the company and if the company is a match for you.
And if you take away nothing else: Send a follow-up email AND handwritten note on the day of your interview. This will always ensure you stand out from other applicants. The email and note should include something personal you discussed in your interview.
Thanks again to Penn State Brandywine for a great event. WE ARE!
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