5 Truths About Starting a Startup

Number 3 will make your head spin


I’m Scott Annan and I’ve started three companies since 2009 and have hired over 10 NYU students, both part-time and full-time, for my ventures. I love working with NYU students – both current and alumni – because you possess qualities that are important to early business success, namely determination and adaptability. And because you have a real zest for life that a place like New York City attracts.

The latest company I co-founded is an on-demand technical talent marketplace called LiquidTalent. Our platform matches up developers and designers with fast-growing companies that are looking to make immediate hiring decisions.

Startups are gaining a lot of attention as of late and for good reason: when you build something from the ground up that the market values, there is no better feeling. But starting a company is also challenging and it’s crucial to understand some of the ins and outs of entrepreneurship before taking the plunge. College is one of the greatest times to test out some of your ideas and see which ones are viable and worth pursuing, and which ones you should leave behind with that old mattress in your dorm room. Here is a personal list of some important truths that I’ve discovered about starting companies that I think you’ll find insightful and may even save you some time and money along the way.

1. If your vision doesn’t make you think that you’re crazy as hell, think bigger. Startups are your chance to invent something that perhaps the world has never seen, or is a variation of something that is in the market but that you could do way better than what exists. Surely there’s merit in starting another coffee house, or a t-shirt company. But people value boldness, and the world wants to believe in crazy ideas that will improve lots of lives, today especially. When starting a business, don’t be afraid of thinking really big and taking on a challenge that if you were to succeed would positively impact millions of people. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t start small to get some early experience, but ultimately, starting a company is your chance to put your vision out there and tell the world why they should care. If you play it too safe, there might not be enough people who will pay attention to it in the first place. It’s just like what Elon Musk is doing with Space X. He’s not talking about the Moon. Boring! He wants to go to Mars. Where do you want to go?

2. Sell first, build later. This truth is one of the most important ones that I see so many young entrepreneurs get wrong over and over again. So many people think they need to create the perfect product and get it exactly right before they sell it. They spend years of time and oodles of money before ever telling anyone about the product. Some of the best entrepreneurs I know will never even think about developing a product until they’ve already sold it. This may seem counterintuitive, but for people that understand entrepreneurship, they know that the key to staying alive is to mitigate risk. One way to mitigate risk is to identify your target market and get them to “pay” for something before you build it. In order to sell something, all you need is a simple mockup or a brochure that describes what the product or service does. Create that, try to find 100 customers, and then see how the response is before investing any further in product development. Sell first, build later.

3. Only start a business if there’s nothing else in the world you would rather do. Seriously! Don’t start a business because you think it’s cool, or because you’re trying to impress someone, or because you think everyone else is doing it. Start a business because you simply know that if you did anything else that would take you away from your core purpose, your soul would shrivel up like a dried plum. And here’s why: starting a business is going to require lots of time. Lots. I’m not talking 40-50 hours a week. I mean you wake up at 630am thinking about your business and you go to bed at 130am thinking about your business. You’re most likely going to have to raise money and be accountable to investors, and you’re going to hire people that will rely on you for their livelihood. And remember this too, most people start businesses because they dream of selling them. Always think about an exit strategy. A startup without an exit strategy just becomes a job. It might be a job that you started. But the point is that you want to create something with real value that other people want, and the best way to do that is by being deeply passionate about something and knowing that there’s literally nothing else on the planet that you would rather wake up and go do every day.

4. Never underestimate the power of your network. We often think about our network as our peers we go to school with, or the people we work with. But when I talk about network, I mean everyone that you know or have ever met, or have ever seen your friends or your parents talking to. When you start a business, the best early customers are the people that are close to you and that know you. Remember that executive your mom was talking to on the phone that one time you were on your way to soccer practice? Yeah, her. Call her. Remember the guy you met at the beach that said he knew a girl who started a company? Go find out her email and phone number and get in touch. The best way to get introductions to early partners, customers, and suppliers is to dive deep into your network and think of all the people that you’ve come in contact with who might be able to help. Starting a business takes a village and you’ve been building a village your entire life so you should view everyone as a potential partner who might be able to help.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask. When I started my first company that I raised money for, it took me many months before I gained the courage to ask investors for money. After all, I had created a cute product that enjoyed some moderate sales that allowed me to feel safe and not have to worry about things like rejection and being accountable to investors. But I knew that if I wanted to take the company to the next level, I would need capital and would need to invest further in inventory. I started by putting together a business plan with some investor materials and I called the people that I knew who I thought might be interested in investing. I got 20 no’s before I got a yes. But what started the process was when I decided to ask. A recent study in Harvard Business Review stated that we are all far more persuasive than we give ourselves credit for. We convince people all the time for numerous things like which restaurant to go to, what movie to see, and what school project to work on. Never be afraid to ask and be direct with people about what you are looking for. The clearer you are about what you’re asking for, the less room there is for any confusion.

A wise person once said, “The harder you work, the luckier you become.” This truth, along with the ones above will prepare you well for success as an entrepreneur and great fulfillment as someone who wants to shape the world yourself, rather than have others shape it for you.

To hear more from Scott & get the lowdown on many different industries & jobs in a quick, easy & fun setting,
RSVP to TORCHtalks!

Tuesday, September 1st 12-2pm, Wasserman Center Main Office

Wasserman Center Welcome Week 2015

MONDAY | AUGUST 31

 WASSERMAN GRAD STUDENT ORIENTATION 12pm-1pm, Main Office

Learn about the vast resources at the Wasserman Center. Take a tour of the office, which includes a computer lab, career development resources, a café with free coffee and tea and comfortable spaces to study and work on your resume.

GETTING THE SCOOP ON WORK STUDY AND PART-TIME JOBS  2pm-3pm, Main Office

Looking for a part-time position on campus? This workshop will help you navigate the process of applying for on-campus employment. Learn the difference between federal work study and non-federal work study, on campus versus off campus employment, and how to use NYU CareerNet to apply for positions. Ice cream and sweet treats will be served!

PASSING THE TORCH: STUDENT & ALUMNI MEET-UP 6pm-7:30pm, Main Office

Network with successful recent alumni from different organizations. Learn tips on navigating college to provide a great foundation for your future career. Alumni from different industries will be on hand to give you an inside look into their industries. Light refreshments will be served.

TUESDAY | SEPTEMBER 1

TORCHTALKS: GET THE LOWDOWN ON HOT CAREERS FROM EXPERTS 12pm-2pm, Main Office

Through personal anecdotes and innovative ideas, employers will impart their knowledge with the incoming class of NYU students during this dynamic series or short talks. TORCHtalks will outline the successes and setbacks that have brought these trailblazers to where they are today. Learn about a variety of different industries and career paths available for exploration during your time at NYU and beyond! Wasserman staff members will also be present to answer any beginning-of-semester questions. Stop by for INSOMNIA COOKIES, free food and giveaways!

EMPLOYER SITE VISIT FEATURING: MACY*S 11:15am-2pm, Main Office

Meet at the Wasserman Center, Main Office, to depart for a visit to Macy*s! Take a tour of the office and attend an NYU Alumni Executive Panel to learn what it’s like to work in the Corporate Headquarters of this famous NYC landmark. This trip will include lunch. 

WASSERMAN GRAD STUDENT ORIENTATION 2:30pm-3:30pm, Main Office

Learn about the vast resources at the Wasserman Center. Take a tour of the office, which includes a computer lab, career development resources, a café with free coffee and tea and comfortable spaces to study and work on your resume.

WEDNESDAY | SEPTEMBER 2

JUMP START YOUR INTERNSHIP SEARCH 2pm-3pm, Main Office

Thinking about an internship but not sure where to start? It’s not too late to find a meaningful opportunity. Learn about search strategies, helpful resources and how to market your strengths, abilities and skills to land an internship.  

THURSDAY | SEPTEMBER 3

GETTING THE SCOOP ON WORK STUDY AND PART-TIME JOBS 3pm-4pm, Main Office

Looking for a part-time position on campus? This workshop will help you navigate the process of applying for on-campus employment. Learn the difference between federal work study and non-federal work study, on campus versus off campus employment, and how to use NYU CareerNet to apply for positions. Ice cream and sweet treats will be served!

FRIDAY | SEPTEMBER 4

OCR ORIENTATION 10am-11am, Brooklyn Office

On-Campus Recruitment (OCR) is an opportunity for juniors, seniors and graduate students to interview on-campus with top employers for some of the most competitive internships and full-time jobs available. To sign up for this program, you must attend a mandatory OCR Orientation Session, which will cover all the necessary information you will need to know in order to participate in this program.

MAKING THE MOST OF THE CAREER FAIR 12pm-1pm, Main Office

Come to this seminar and find out the best ways to set yourself apart for full-time, internships or part-time opportunities available at the Fall Job & Internship Fair on Thursday, September 10.

TUESDAY | SEPTEMBER 8

GRADUATE STUDENT WELCOME BREAKFAST 9am-11am, Main Office

This event is a great opportunity for new graduate students to meet and network with each other. Participants will also learn about the many programs, resources and services that the Wasserman Center offers for graduate students. Breakfast will be served.

MEET THE WASSERMAN CAREER AMBASSADORS 2pm-5pm, Kimmel Center, 2nd Floor Lobby

Meet the Wasserman Career Ambassadors and ask any questions about the Wasserman Center. At this table, you can also pre-register for the Fall Job & Internship Fair and enter to win a Wasserman t-shirt.

THURSDAY | SEPTEMBER 10

FALL JOB & INTERNSHIP FAIR 11am-3pm, Kimmel Center 

Take advantage of this opportunity to meet with over 140 employers hiring for full-time and part-time jobs and internships. Explore different industries, gather information about career options and connect with employers. The fair will draw recruiters from business, nonprofit and government organizations, among many others.

FRIDAY | SEPTEMBER 11

EMPLOYER SITE VISIT FEATURING UBER 10:15am-1pm, Main Office

Meet at the Wasserman Center, Main Office, to depart for a visit to Uber! Take a tour of the office to learn what it’s like to work at this exciting and growing startup. This trip will include lunch. 

DROP-IN HOURS

Have quick questions about finding a work study position? Need help with your resume or cover letter? Looking for help with talking to employers or sending email communications? Drop by for a 5 minute conversation with a career coach at our extended drop-in hours.

SATURDAY | AUGUST 29 11am-4pm, Main Office & Brooklyn Office

SUNDAY | AUGUST 30 11am-3pm, Main Office

MONDAY | AUGUST 31 12pm-5pm, Main Office & Brooklyn Office

FRIDAY | SEPTEMBER 4 12pm-5pm, Main Office

TUESDAY | SEPTEMBER 8 12pm-5pm, Main Office

WEDNESDAY | SEPTEMBER 9 12pm-5pm, Main Office

Do’s and Don’ts When Networking with Alumni

One of the best ways for students to get insight and information about their desired industry or company is to network with alumni. Although networking does not always guarantee a job or internship opportunity, the benefits are great when you are able to create meaningful professional connections, and apply what you learn from those relationships to your own career development. Below are some tips on what you should and shouldn’t do as you prepare to network with NYU alumni.

DO

  1. Join LinkedIn and learn how to use it effectively: Just having an account with a picture or updated professional information is not enough! You should have a dynamic page that shows employers your career path, competencies, and accomplishments. Once your LinkedIn profile is complete, you should join groups related to your industry and use the “Find Alumni” feature to connect with recent and seasoned NYU alumni with whom you can try to meet for informational interviews. You can learn more about how to use LinkedIn for effective networking here.

  2. Conduct informational interviews with alumni: Once you’ve been successful in connecting with alumni and you have a date set for an informational interview, it’s your time to shine! Make sure that you ask smart questions related to the trends, hiring practices, and company culture. This is also your chance to discuss your professional accomplishments and goals. The alumnus/a with whom you’re meeting might remember this when a position opens at their company!

  3. Attend seminars and info sessions offered by the Wasserman Center: We provide many opportunities for you to connect to employers in a variety of fields. Whether you’re a first-year student exploring career paths, or a senior who has decided on a specific industry, career panels and company info sessions will allow you to meet with employers and explore internship and job opportunities at their companies. Make sure that you follow-up with these recruiters with a “Thank You” note within 48 hours! You can sign-up for panels, info sessions and other employer-led career events at Wasserman via CareerNet.

  4. Join professional associations and student clubs at NYU: If you’re serious about an industry, it is wise to invest in a national or local professional membership. Professional associations allow you to meet and network with professionals (many of them, NYU alumni) who can show you the ropes of the industry and provide valuable leads in your job/internship search. Many of these professional associations have student membership rates so you don’t have to break the bank! Equally, NYU offers many opportunities for students to get involved in professional-oriented clubs/organizations where alumni are invited as guests to many of their events. This is your chance to start building connections with alumni as a student! You can contact the NYU Student Resource Center or the Office for Student Activities, Leadership and Service to learn more about affinity groups and student organizations.

  5. Gain access to the professional network at Wasserman: The Wasserman Center’s Professional  Network helps NYU students explore careers by linking them with alumni and other professionals who have expressed an interest in helping students gain valuable information about industries through informational interviews, phone/Skype appointments, job shadowing, or e-mail exchanges. To access the Professional Network, students should visit the Wasserman Center during walk-in hours. A career coach will briefly go over protocol and the steps to utilize our Professional Network through your NYU CareerNet account

DON’T

  1. Spam alumni networks: Sending your resume to everyone on an alumni listserv never works well. Don’t create a negative online reputation by inconveniencing your colleagues. Spamming your network, mostly composed of alumni who don’t know you personally, is a surefire way to get you blacklisted before they even meet you.

  2. Network with alumni randomly: In the past, people welcomed calls from fellow alumni because it was the only way to connect with past classmates. Today, random calls from fellow alumni are almost always met with mistrust. Remember, your networking should be intentional and specific. Networking with individuals who don’t have a clear connection with you won’t establish much initial trust or help in your job/internship search.

  3. Act desperately or negatively: When you overshare your job search issues, challenges or even goals with a fellow alum who doesn’t know you personally, you start to sound desperate. This can make the conversation uncomfortable, especially if they don’t have an immediate solution to your problem. Talking negatively about a past job or supervisor will not land you in the best position with a potential colleague or boss. Make sure that all of your interactions with alumni (whether via e-mail, phone, or in person) are uplifting, positive, and related to obtaining meaningful advice for your career and job/internship search.

  4. Just ask for a job: Asking an alum, whom you probably don’t know very well, for a job nearly always fails. What makes you think that this person has any oversight of the hiring at their company or that they even have openings?. Even if that alum is a hiring manager with openings for which you’re qualified, you’re assuming that having an alma mater in common will get you a job and this is not the case. Remember that employers have procedures to follow when hiring new talent.  Why waste their time and ruin a potentially valuable connection from the start? There is much more value that a fellow alum can provide than just directing you to a job site, concentrate on that instead.

  5. Ask alumni for help if you aren’t able to reciprocate: Networking is a two-way street and you should always be willing and happy to provide assistance to those who have helped you in the past. You don’t have to be an expert in your field to offer help to a fellow alum. Just keep abreast of new developments and trends in your field and share valuable information with them whenever is appropriate and relevant. You’ll be surprised how a small act of kindness and professional collaboration can create great dividends for your career!

To start you off with alumni networking attend Passing the Torch: Student/Alumni Meet-up during Welcome Week at the Wasserman Center!

Monday, August 31, 2015, 6:00pm – 7:30pm-Main Wasserman Office, Presentation Room A
Network with successful recent alumni from different organizations. Learn tips on navigating college to provide a great foundation for your future career. Alumni from different industries will be on hand to give you an inside look into their industries. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP for this event via CareerNet.
 

Wrapping Up Your Internship on a Positive Note

Nicole Klein Isenhour, Assistant Director at The Wasserman Center for Career Development at NYU-Poly, offers forth some tips for completing your internship.

You’re nearing the end of your internship so it must be time to throw caution to the wind right? WRONG…the final days, weeks, hours of your summer internship are equally as important as your first, if not more! How you leave things off will the employer will leave a lasting impression and set the stage for things moving forward. You always want to end things on a good note and have the employer remember your hard work all summer. Wrapping up the right way can lead to references, recommendations, mentorship, keeping in touch and most importantly: potential consideration for future positions down the line. Not sure what to do? No problem, that’s where we come in with the top 5 tips for wrapping up your internship.

  • Make sure your projects are covered– Finish as much as you can but in the event you are leaving before a project is finished, leave strong documentation so that your coworkers can pick up where you left off or a new person can come in and know what you have already done or what needs to be done. Your coworkers will appreciate you keeping them in the loop and leaving thorough notes
  • Schedule a final meeting with your supervisor – Review what you have done; projects, your goals moving forward, advice they might have for you in terms of professional development. Mention what you have learned and how this experience has been valuable to you.
  • Ask for constructive feedback – Is there anything you did really well and are there areas for improvement that you could work on moving forward? A thing or two you might be able to improve upon? It shows the employer that you are mature, that you care about your growth and development and that you want to continue to improve and succeed.
  • Thank everyone– Thank your supervisor but also thank anyone else you reported to and perhaps some you did not report to but wanted to thank for the experience, such as higher ups in the company. Ask for a few minutes of their time to drop in and discuss your internship. Use this time to informationally network, share what you learned, how you grew from your time there. Ask to keep in touch in the future, after the internship concludes. Also thank your fellow interns, coworkers and any other staff that contributed to your positive experience. Appreciation goes a long way and leaves a lasting impression. Send handwritten thank you notes as well!
  • Stay connected– Send a hello email every month or 2 to the employer. See what they have been doing in the news or what is happening in the industry to use as some talking points, forward an article that might be applicable to their business and of interest to them. This shows you are invested and care about keeping up with industry trends and current events. You can also share something relevant you did in a class, a group project, a conference you attended, share it!

As always, feel free to make an appointment through CareerNet and come by the Wasserman Center for Career Development to discuss your personal internship experience and career goals/ next steps!

6 More Books to Help Your Career Development This Summer (Part II)

Stay on top of your game with these books all written to help you achieve your career goals. These bestsellers will change the way you see the world, interact and handle any obstacle that comes your way. Enjoy!

The Art of Mingling: Proven Technique for Mastering Any Room, by Jeanne Martinet

Don’t let your wallflower ways keep you from getting what you want. The Art of Mingling offers great tips on how to work any room. Trust us, after this you’ll be the life of the party… or at least be able to network better. 

 

 

 

 

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi & Tahl Raz

Want to know the key to success? According to Ferrazzi and Raz it is networking. Learning how to cultivate relationships is an important part of life. Never Eat Alone teaches readers how to make connections using their handy outlines and strategies. The important thing to remember is that it isn’t just about getting what you want; it’s also about making sure those who are important to you also get what they want.

 

 

Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers, by Lois P. Frankel

Who would have thought that everything your mother taught you is completely wrong in dealing with your career ambitions. Not to worry Frankel has you covered and will educate you on what you need as a woman to continue to make that climb to the top.

 

 

 

 

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, by Thomas L. Friedman

Understanding the world we live in is crucial in navigating today’s job markets. Whatever your career path The World is Flat gives the reader an understanding of the events that have shaped today’s ‘flat’ and fast globalized world. Friedman explains how this happened and demystifies complex foreign policy and economic issues that are currently shaping the global.

Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, by Martha C. Nussbaum

In Not for Profit, Nussbaum urges us to consider the issues that arise when we put economic growth ahead of humanitarian growth. For students interested in the Non-Profit sector this book is a must read because it takes a look at the impact that education focused on trade rather than knowledge has on our society.

 

 

 

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, by Kerry Patterson

Crucial Conversations offers readers a guide to handling life’s most difficult conversations. Learn how to be persuasive, talk about almost anything, and prepare for nearly every situation with Patterson’s six-minute mastery technique.

 

 

 

 

4 Things to Expect at a Big Company

Jacqueline Allen is part of the Unilever Future Leader’s Program. Her current role is a CD/Marketing Management Trainee on the Kroger Foods Team in Cincinnati Ohio. She is a 2015 graduate of NYU Stern where she majored in Marketing and Management and was President of the Marketing Society.

When it comes to choosing your first job out of college, there is a lot of debate over whether to start your career at a small company or a large company. There are differences and benefits to each. I just wrapped up my training for UFLP (Unilever Future Leader’s Program) so you can tell I went big. Here are 4 things to expect when working at a big company.

1. Structure

Big companies like Unilever have structured programs for new hires. UFLP is a three year rotational program that teaches us about our function (Marketing, Supply Chain, R&D, HR, IT or Finance) from a variety of viewpoints so that we really understand the business and can be effective managers. A structured program allows you to experience many aspects of the business while being guided through the different departments. At a smaller company you might have to request to transfer to a different role or department, but at Unilever it’s part of the job description.

2. Support

Since the company has many employees, there is an extensive support system. In UFLP we have a manager for the current rotation, a manager across the 3 years, an assigned mentor and a buddy who’s in the program a year ahead of us, plus HR and the more informal network we’ll be building within the company. Large companies want to train their new hires and really see them succeed so all of the people involved in the program are championing the program and the people in it.

3. Passionate People

That brings me to the people. There are so many passionate people at Unilever. The people that succeed the most are the most passionate people who are dedicated to what they do. During training we heard from many senior employees about their paths at Unilever and why they love coming to work every day. A big part of that is the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan which is our sustainability plan that sets out to double growth while halving our environmental footprint. At a big company you’ll find passionate people working on innovations and what the next step looks like for the company. Large companies typically have the time and resources to dedicate to planning the future while smaller firms or startups are more focused on the current business and the near future.

4. Impactful Projects

2 billion people a day use Unilever products. With numbers like that any project you work on at Unilever can impact and improve the lives of so many people. It’s inspiring to work at a company where the things you do are executed on such a huge scale. It’s very cool to be working with brands that have the power to make the world a better place.

Large companies typically have large structured training programs that allow new hires to learn the business from multiple perspectives, the network to support your growth, passionate people surrounding you and impactful projects to work on. My advice to younger students: try to gain internship experience at a variety of companies so you get a chance to experience the differences firsthand to understand where you like to work.

For more information about the UFLP program or internships at Unilever, check out http://www.unileverusa.com/careers-jobs/

 

Get the lowdown on hot careers from experts including Unilever at 

TORCHtalks

Tuesday, September 1st 12-2pm, Wasserman Center Main Office

This is your opportunity to get the lowdown on many different industries and jobs in a quick, easy and fun setting! Come meet employers, eat free food (including Insomnia Cookies!) and chat with Wasserman Staff about your job search, career direction, major selection or anything else!

5 Books to Help Your Career Development This Summer (Part I)

Below is a list of must read books that are filled with valuable career advice – no matter what your major or industry interest is. The best part is you can always read these while taking in the sun at your favorite park or beach.

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2012: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, by Richard Nelson Bolles

This book (already in it’s 40th edition) is the go to guide for job searching. What Color is Your Parchute? 2012 is loaded with advice for job seekers in today’s market. Bolles gives advice on a variety of topics from how to use social media tools for your advantage to updated tips on networking, interviewing, salary negotiations and even entrepreneurialism. The best part is this is not specific to one industry everyone can take advantage of the advice here.

 

 

From Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins

Jim Collins set out to find out what makes a good company great. Through extensive research and years of studies the result is this book that suggests that leadership and discipline among other traits can turn even a bad company into a great one.

 

 

 

Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type, by Paul D. Tieger & Barbara Barron-Tieger

Here is a radical idea, get a job based on your personality. Do What You Are is chock full of career advice based on your personality type; including advice based on each type’s strengths and weaknesses. The book also offers a comprehensive list of possible careers for each of the 16 different types of personalities.

 

 

 

Power Ties: The International Student’s Guide to Finding a Job in the United States, by Daniel Beaudry 

Often, students face the harsh reality that an American education isn’t enough to land you that dream job, however, the book is filled with great insight for international students on navigating the job market.

 

 

 

 

Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Ever wonder if you can really trust your gut? Noble Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman, explains how we think in his book. Kahneman engages the reader with tips on how to use this scientific insight to make better decisions and understand how our decision-making process works.

 

 

Five Tips for Following Your Passion in NYC

Cara-Lynne Thomas is currently a graduate student at Bank Street College studying Museum Education. She is an educator at the American Museum of Natural History, and an intern in event planning for college students at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Cara is also an artist focused on sculpture, working and showing at the National Academy in Manhattan. She holds an MA in Classical Archaeology from Tufts University and a BA in Anthropology and Classical Archaeology from the University of Texas at Austin.

It can be daunting to follow your dream in New York.  Your “career path” may be so winding that you’re not sure where it’s headed, and you may feel uncertain about how what you love translates to a career.  Here are five tips that have helped me as I follow my passion in the city:

1. Volunteer

Is there an organization where you would love to work after graduation?  See if you can volunteer there now!  It’s a good way to build contacts and skills while you’re still in school, often with a low or flexible time commitment.  I have gotten several jobs out of volunteering!

2. Learn everything you can about your dream job

Do your research!  What’s the education background of people with that job?  What skills are necessary before applying?  Find people who have a job you want and look at their backgrounds (many CVs are available online).  If you meet someone with a job you would love to have, don’t be afraid to ask them about their backgrounds; many people are happy to help.  This way you have a clearer idea of what may be expected of you in the future, so that you can plan for it now.

3. Take time for yourself

Meditate, work out, walk in a park, binge watch TV.  Doing something just for yourself can help keep your head clear.  Additionally, find ways to make something you love even a small part of your day; give yourself little reminders for why your hard work is worth it!

4. Trust your intuition

Have a feeling in your gut that you should do something totally new?  Go for it!  The same goes for negative feelings, even if something sounds great, but you have a bad feeling about it, listen to yourself.

5. Become okay with failure

Your setbacks are part of your path, and you may find yourself with new (and better!) opportunities because something else didn’t work out. For people following their passions this can be extremely difficult, because we tend to place a lot of our self-value on our work and see professional setbacks as personal failures.  It’s cliché, but life isn’t about never failing, it’s about how you recover from failing.   It can be hard to remember that in the midst of a setback, but with resilience you can be successful.

Networking at Your Summer Internship

Professional schmoozing is one of the keys to turning a summer gig into a permanent job. Because networking (done right) leaves a great impression on the employer, it can lead to a permanent job offer or a handy recommendation. Here’s how:

Beef Up Your Memory. When summer interns bump into the same high-level manager on their way to get coffee the manager will be a lot more impressed if the potential employee remembers something about them, says Anna Mok, a Strategic Relationships partner at Deloitte & Touche. Mok suggests that interns should put in the effort to remember anecdotes and names of co-workers and keep notes on whom they’ve met.

Be Sincere. Kristen Garcia, a group sales manager at Macy’s West (M) says that her genuine interest in meeting others from the company got her the job offer after she interned at Macy’s two years ago. “I introduced myself briefly to someone who wasn’t my direct boss, and it got me to work on an advertising project that the rest of the interns weren’t working on,” Garcia says. “But I never misrepresented myself and was always sincere.” Butler agrees, “To be indiscriminate for the sake of networking is going to be a waste of your time and not get you what you want.”

Find Some Face Time. Online networking sites, such as LinkedIn, are great. But to truly build connections, Mok, encourages interns to join professional organizations in their field to get valuable face time. Especially for those in a large city, a variety of networking groups are available and organizers are often thrilled to get younger members. Dave Wills, vice-president of Seattle-based Cascade Link, encourages interested interns to join tech clubs and professional organizations organizations. “Through those clubs we’ve met people whom we’ve hired as interns or to work on other projects.”

Join in the Big Kid Activities. Interns don’t need to stick to their own kind. Instead, ask to play in the company softball league or volunteer with their charity of choice. For those willing to be more proactive it helps to create an activity others from the company would be excited to join.

Show Up Alone. If fellow interns at the company don’t join that optional lunch or head over for a few drinks at a happy hour—go alone and meet others at the organization. In fact, not bringing work friends to networking events helps guests leave their comfort zone and meet new contacts, according to a study by Columbia Business School professors Paul Ingram and Michael Morris.

Skip the E-Mail. Most key figures at a company are overwhelmed with their inbox, so instead of being 1 out of 200 messages, pick another way to communicate. Instead, a quick hello or a short chat goes a long way according to Wills. “A phone call is still appropriate,” he says and encourages interns to figure out a convenient time in the day. “I’m always booked solid in the mornings, but usually the afternoons for me are pretty laid-back”.

Save the Tough for Last. Reach out to those who are easiest to approach first—hold off on chatting with the heads of the company who probably know less about incoming interns. “Don’t start at the top of the food chain—network with people who can still identify with where you are as a student intern,” says Ken Keeley, executive director of the Career Opportunities Center at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. Going to the higher-ups later in the summer also increases the chance that a colleague will put in a good word about the intern before the actual approach.

Evaluate Them. Not only is networking a tool interns use to stand out, it’s also a way for students to find out whether they’re willing to commit to a full-time job. “Many times these organizations force students to make big decisions before campus recruiting, so the companies will know how much recruiting they have to do during the school year.” Garcia, who received her offer in September of senior year, agrees: “Not only did I want to make a good impression on the company, I wanted the company to make a good impression on me.”

Source: Dizik, Alina. “Networking for Interns.” www.businessweek.comBloomberg, L.P. 18 June 2007. Web. 04 June 2014

Halfway Through Your Internship Checklist

So, you’re about half way through your summer internship? How can you make sure you’ll stand out? Here are a few tips on how to shine for the remainder of the summer:

  • Reflect on your experience – if you’re happy with the opportunities you’ve had so far, ask for ways to become more involved in these projects. If you’re unhappy with the experience, you still have time to evaluate why and take initiative to make the most of the internship experience.
  • Schedule a formal mid-summer check in with your internship supervisor to evaluate your performance thus far. Ask about ways that you can continue to grow and develop professionally, as well as contribute to the team.
  • Stay busy – there is always work to be done! Ask your supervisor what he/she needs help with and volunteer to work on all types of projects.
  • Grow your network – ask colleagues out for coffee or lunch. Conduct a non-formal informational interview to learn about their career paths, experience within their roles, and for advice.

Make the most of the second half of your internship and stop by the Wasserman Center for Career Development to discuss your personal internship experience and career goals!