Back when I was a freshman, I would walk by the TOC and see everyone dressed professionally. I remember feeling terrible and asking myself, “Why aren’t you dressed up today? I went earlier this week and I went once last week but am I trying hard enough?” But now, I see people in the same position I was in and I hear them saying the same thing I was thinking three years ago.
If you are stressing about getting an internship or job, don’t fret! There are plenty of ways you can obtain an internship besides throwing your resume at someone at an opportunity conference. Not that this is a bad way of applying but all of my internships were obtained through networking. Here are three tips for those who want to take their networking skills to the next level:
- Reach out to everyone you know – The best way to hear about more opportunities is to talk to people. Talk to neighbors, family, friend’s parents, or anyone that you think could give you a point of contact at a company. In fact, talk to people that you don’t think could give you a contact as well because they might know more people than you think.
- Secure a referral – If a contact says they can refer you, do everything you can to let the recruiter know that you have spoken to that person at the firm. This might indicate to the recruiter that you know more about the company than most and that you are invested. If your application asks for anyone that referred you, put their name! But only if you and your referral have talked about it.
- Be yourself – When you are talking with a recruiter, potential referral, or your interviewer just be yourself. And when I say be yourself, I don’t mean be unprofessional or impolite if you are naturally that way. I just mean be a genuine person. Typically firms want people who would be a pleasure to work with. If you find yourself being standoffish or terse and you know that is not who you are, take a deep breath, take a step back, and relax. I was helping a friend prepare for a case interview and they were going through the steps that a case interview book was advising them to do. I eventually told them, “If you find yourself spewing things straight out of the book and you don’t understand yourself or you feel like you are being a robot, take a deep breath and just have a normal conversation.” He went through the same exact situation, took my advice, and landed the job. Your interviewer or contact at a firm are human too and rarely do people look forward to having a conversation with someone who sounds like a book.