Tag Archives: career transition

Asking for Advice, Not a Job: How to Conduct Informational Interviews

Megan Yasenchak is a current graduate student at NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, pursuing a Masters in Global Affairs.  She attended the NYU Wasserman Center@SCPS career event, entitled, “Asking for Advice, Not a Job: How to Conduct Informational Interviews” which was presented by Rachel Frint, Associate Director, NYU Wasserman Center at SCPS.  In competitive job markets, informational interviews are a key resource to assist job seekers by expanding and cultivating their career networks.

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What is Informational Interviewing?

Informational interviewing is a form of networking with experts from your field or a related industry. It is a personal meeting, one-on-one, where you are leading the conversation with that person by asking them for advice, insight and guidance in developing your career path. In these meetings, you ask questions about their own career experiences and their organizations as well. This process allows you to make a positive impression on an expert outside of the confines of a traditional job interview.

Why is Informational Interviewing important?

Informational interviewing is asking for resources, not asking for a job. However, informational interviewing may connect you to job opportunities. Frequently, employers do not post all of their vacancies through public announcements. These un-posted vacancies are referred to as the “hidden job market,” which accounts for nearly 70% of job opportunities.

Through informational interviewing, a job seeker leaves an impression with that industry expert. You are investing your time in building a relationship with the expert that can lead to, potentially, other future industry contacts. This networking could result in job opportunities.

How To Identify Potential Contacts

Everyone is a potential contact. There are “strong” connections, such as family and friends and “weak” connections, like classmates, former co-workers or new acquaintances at events. Use your personal network, professional associations, social media and the Wasserman Center to expand your connections!

How To Initiate an Informational Interview

First, identify who you are (i.e. your brand), what do you want to communicate, what are your goals and how you can maintain this relationship.

When requesting an informational interview, be clear and direct in your request. Introduce yourself and explain any connection, why you would like to meet and how you would like to connect (e.g. telephone, in person, video chat).

How to Conduct the Informational Interview

Your informational interview is to gain insight from an industry expert. Be prepared for the meeting by thinking of topics of conversation, conducting research on that person and/or organization and think of questions. Informational interviewing is your chance to gain critical insight into your career field from experts!

After the Informational Interview

Your goal is to maintain this relationship and build connections, especially after the meeting. Remember to send a quick thank you note (within 24 hours). Maintain the relationship by sending your contact an update on your professional life (every 1-3 months).

 Maintaining so many current and future contacts may seem daunting; so divide your connections into a manageable list. Meet with new one person every week. Try to schedule one informational interview every month. Reconnect with one former contact every week.

To develop your own career strategies for building a network, schedule an appointment with a NYU Wasserman Center Career Coach through NYU CareerNet

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.com Bloomberg, L.P. 18 June 2007. Web. 04 June 2014

Career Potential: Working at an Ad Agency

This summer here at Wasserman, we want to help give some insight into particular career fields that you may not have previously considered. Here, Sydney Mai, MCC ’17, offers forth some thoughts on working in advertising.

Want a career like Mad Men’s Don Draper? Want to build an empire on Madison Ave. while spearheading a talented, dynamic team? Want office experience but dread the humdrum nine-to-five white-collar cycle? If you’re in for a little adventure, working at an ad agency is one career potential you can’t skip.

I was exposed to the concept of ad agency work in my Advertising & Marketing class last semester with Professor Eugene Secunda (to NYU future marketers: the course is a must-take). All through high school, I always thought that whatever field I ended up in, whether it was to be journalism, PR, or marketing, I’d always opt for the creative path. Truth is, an artist doesn’t have to make arts to be creative. Whether you’re a creator, a strategist, a communicator, or a businessperson, there’s a place to express your inner artistry at an ad agency.

With the explosion of social networks in recent years, the business of digital advertising is burgeoning alongside traditional advertising. The basic structure of a full-service ad agency, nevertheless, remains the quite static:

  • The account department acts as an intermediary between the advertiser (client) and the agency, communicates finance-related matters, and works closely with all internal departments to develop content & ensure that the advertiser’s message is being delivered.
  • The strategy department, also called account planning, conducts research that provides the basis for the campaign. Remember: the creative process starts with an insight!
  • The creative department is in charge of writing and designing the ad campaign. Good creatives are full with fresh ideas and know how to smoothly incorporate the advertiser’s message within their creative context.
  • The media & interactive department acquire outlets to run the campaign: prints, television, websites, social media, etc.
  • The production department executes the campaign. From printing ads to contracting directors for TV commercials, they turn plans into actions.

These vital elements of a full-service agency work like gears in a clock: everything has to be in sync. The creative department can’t go overboard with a creative idea and neglect the advertiser’s budget or intended messages. Same goes for the strategy department: account planners can’t squander a client’s budget conducting restless surveys and focus group researches. Therefore, an ad agency needs a capable account team to lubricate its gears, keeping its component departments on par with one another.

It is also important to keep in mind that an ad agency must hold great accountability for its statements. While it is easy to make unfounded claims sound convincing, it is extremely difficult – even impossible – to amend those claims and the retrieve the reputation that’s been lost. Respect your client by being accountable for your words.

Want to get your feet wet in this ever-changing, fast-paced business? Start now by searching for an internship. One of the most exciting facts about the ad world is that you learn as you go. Therefore, don’t worry too much about your background and experiences – be confident and show your passion, knowledge, and creativity. Impress your interviewers with latest articles from Ad Age & Ad Week. With your first internship, be even more flexible and look into marketing & PR positions to see how these practices crisscross and correlate. Best of luck with your endeavors!

Summer Spotlight Series with FindSpark

Recently, Victoria Cana, MCC ’16, shared a recap of her day working with @FindSpark. Click on the logo below for a recap.

Keep tuning into our blog throughout the next few months for more spotlights on summer jobs and internships.

Secrets to Landing a Job in PR & Communications

By: Ayeesha Kanji, NYU Wasserman Center @ SCPS Graduate Assistant

Recently, Rachel Frint from the NYU Wasserman Center @ SCPS hosted a webinar with Brittany Mullings, HR Associate at Prosek Partners on the Secrets of Landing a Job in PR & Communications.  In case you missed it, here are a few strategies to breaking into this competitive field:

Your Resume & Cover Letter

·      Maximum two pages, preferably one page in PDF format.

·      Pay attention to formatting details (Are all bullet points aligned? Dates aligned at the margin? Consistency in spacing?) Ensure grammar is correct.

·      Nix your objective at the top of your resume and outline your areas of expertise utilizing key words within the field, such as client relations, media relations, pitching and public speaking.

·      Use a personalized cover letter that explains employment gaps, describes why you switched industries and parallels your experience to the job description.

You & Social Media

·      Google yourself to see what positive and negative links work against you and work for you to maintain a clean and professional image. Sign-up at www.brandyourself.com to monitor your Google search results.

·      On LinkedIn use a professional picture, keep your profile up-to-date and follow companies you are interested in.

·      Ensure your public profile represents your professional brand between all social media you follow and subscribe to.

Interview Tips

·      Prepare three to five questions to ask in the interview which are not answered through researching and/or using the company website.

·      The interview is your opportunity to begin a dialogue and talk about what is not on your resume, personalize your responses and be genuine in your tone during the interview.

·      Within 24 hours send a thank-you note in either an email or as a card.

To develop your own career action plan for landing a job in public relations and communications, schedule an appointment with a NYU Wasserman Center Career Coach through NYU CareerNet.

Making the Most of Your Internship Experience

Sanjana Kucheria, CAS ’16, is interning this summer with a real estate investment company. Here, she offers some tips on making the most of your internship experience.

It’s been two weeks since I started my internship at Cottonwood Residential, a real estate investment company. Honestly, this is my first internship out of my hometown as well, so I knew I had to make an extra effort to get acclimated to the city as well as the work environment. There are two other interns working along side me in Acquisitions.

My first week was…tough. Applying all of the knowledge gained in the classroom setting is different, and maybe even a little difficult, which is why I share with you my first tip:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if they may sound a little ridiculous to you. Even with everything I learned in classes and whatnot, I still had questions I needed to go the manager about. Luckily, he was more than happy to help, even going as far as saying, “I’m glad you’re trying to get this right”. Maybe not the best compliment out there, but here’s what I took away from it.

2. Learn what you have to (and more) early on. Whether that’s how to input numbers in excel or how to build a PowerPoint slide the way your company /boss wants it. It may look careless if you ask how to do something in the middle of your internship rather than in the beginning.

3. Take advantage of lunch breaks. It’s probably the only time you will get to talk to employees outside of your division. Ask them questions about their jobs, lives, etc. Don’t be the lone intern. No one will come up to you.

4. Show enthusiasm in your work. My internship requires me to do a lot of financial analysis of many properties. Although it may not sound real exciting, I look forward to tackling property after property when I walk into the office. Strike up a conversation with you boss/manager about industry/market trends, questions you had about a particular case etc. Showing that extra eagerness in your work and the company’s work will definitely make your experience all that more memorable.

Overall, just really enjoy each day of your internship!

In Case You Missed It: Day In The Life at Toymail

Did you miss Marla’s day as a Marketing Manager @toymailco? If so, click on the logo below for a recap.

Sound like a place you’d like to intern? Apply for their openings on CareerNet: Job ID 932202 and 932205.

Professional Networking Tips from Treatings

Hayden Williams is Co-Founder and CEO of Treatings. Treatings is a professional networking platform that facilitates one-on-one meetups over coffee. Prior to Treatings, Hayden spent four years as an investment banker at BofA Merrill Lynch. He graduated from Vanderbilt in 2008 with a degree in Economics and Corporate Strategy.

My first job out of college was in investment banking. While Vanderbilt’s Career Center was a great resource in securing the job, it was the individual relationships I’d built the summer after my junior year that were most helpful in deciding what I wanted to do.

I was living in New York doing an internship in Consulting. I realized that I didn’t want to work in Consulting after graduating, so I had to figure out an alternative career path. I started reaching out to all of the Vanderbilt alumni I could find who were working in roles I was interested in, asking people out for coffee so I could learn about their job.

The most helpful conversations I had were with junior people working at the level I would be starting in. I wasn’t looking for a job offer, just access to information about what certain roles were like and what types of people succeeded in them. I found it more difficult to find junior people than senior people. Young professionals aren’t prominently displayed on company websites and often don’t think to open themselves up on alumni networks. But, by the end of the summer I’d met enough people in investment banking that I decided the transferable financial skills I’d pick up as an Analyst would make for a good place to start my career.

Fast forward three years later and I was promoted to Associate. I had learned a lot and worked with great people, but realized that I didn’t want to remain in investment banking forever. I wasn’t passionate about the work and my skill set was getting narrower. I wanted to leave the finance industry and potentially work at a start-up, but I didn’t know how viable that would be given my lack of technical expertise.

My best friend (and now co-founder), Paul, was in a similar situation. We both wanted to leave our finance jobs, but didn’t want to blindly transition to a job that wouldn’t be a great fit. We wanted to talk to peers who had made career transitions we were interested in. I found that existing professional networking tools were helpful in documenting and leveraging my professional network, but not reaching outside of it. This was a problem because no one in my network worked at a start-up.

Paul and I decided there should be a professional networking equivalent to online dating sites, where people could go when they wanted to meet people outside their network. So, we quit our jobs to build Treatings, a local professional network where everyone is open to meeting over coffee to share ideas and opportunities.

The core value that Treatings offers is access to knowledge. We believe that people’s insights and career experiences have as much latent value as any physical good they own, so we’re always looking to reduce the friction of knowledge transfer.

We’re a peer-to-peer networking site. We don’t differentiate between “consumers” of knowledge and “producers” of it. Most people sign up for Treatings as a consumer, not imagining that people would be interested in their insights. People are often surprised and flattered to hear they can be a producer of knowledge when they are asked by fellow members to talk about their work. People have been using Treatings to find collaborators, meet people with shared interests and learn about new skills.

We have incorporated a filter into Treatings that makes it easy for NYU alumni and students to connect with each other. You can sign up for the platform and follow companies and skills you’re interested in. You’re then matched with other members based on shared interests and can propose coffee meetings with whomever you’d like.

We think networking should be a routine part of people’s lives, but it doesn’t have to be boring or formal. Treatings is all about taking conversations about your work out of the office. We hope you get the opportunity to meet fellow members of the NYU community over coffee (or the beverage of your choice!).

Sign up today! treatings.co

NYU Veteran’s Resources

On this Memorial Day, please take part of your day to reflect on those who bravely served our country. NYU offers a wide variety of resources to those affiliated with the military. Whether you are thinking of enrolling, are currently enrolled, or are back on campus following your service, you can find a wealth of pertinent information through our Military Service/Veteran’s Resources site. Additionally, we’re here all summer at the Wasserman Center to assist with all aspects of career planning. Log into CareerNet and make an appointment with a career coach or drop by during our walk-in hours.

Networking at the Summer BBQ

So, with the long weekend approaching, and the weather warming up nicely, you may find yourself outdoors this weekend, enjoying a nice barbecue, picnic, or celebration. If not this weekend, you’ll definitely be outdoors in a social setting at some point this summer. In addition to simply relaxing and catching up with friends and family, you would be wise to take that time and use it to network and plan ahead in your career search. Whether you’re a recent graduate looking for full-time employment or still in school and angling for an internship, here are a few quick tips for when you find yourself gathered outdoors with potential contacts.

1. Go easy on the food & drink

Sure, you can grab something off the grill and have a refreshing drink. It’s summer, after all! However, be mindful of your intake when in networking mode. It’s not cool to be talking through your burger or to be expanding on your interests with mustard on your face. Similarly, it’s best to not excitedly slur your way through a conversation because you’ve had one or two too many beverages. Think in moderation!

2. Start small and don’t monopolize time

When you identify people that you’d like to speak with, make some small talk before delving into more job-related topics. Folks are in leisure mode and don’t want to be bombarded with anxious or overzealous interrogators. When the conversation turns toward business, ask a relevant question or two or showcase something specific from your set of qualifications. Avoid a rehearsed speech and don’t attempt to rehash your entire resume. Sometimes all it takes is a mention that you’re looking for work to get the ball rolling, so also make sure that you are honest and clear in your career intentions. Know when to wrap things up, too. If you’re around the same people for most of the afternoon, you won’t want to be talking shop all day. If that person is just making a quick appearance at the outing, you’ll want to allow them to make the rounds without you taking up all of their time.

3. Make the most of that time you have, though

Be sure to thank the person and ask for a business card or contact information, so that you can follow up at a later date. Perhaps you can meet up again for coffee or for a tour of the office? Hopefully, you’ll be able to send along your resume in a later email. Asking for contact information ensures that you’ll be able to take the conversation further! Plus, don’t forget to follow up with a thank-you email.

4. Continue moving forward

Hopefully, your conversations led somewhere. At the minimum, you should have probably received some insight or advice that compels you to further your research and career exploration. Add the people you spoke to on LinkedIn, Google their companies, and use sites like CareerNet and Vault to look more closely at the person’s day-to-day job responsibilities. Keep the motivation and idea gathering flowing!