When you’re a student or recent grad searching for that perfect job or internship, the job hunt can seem like an endless process. The good news is that for every hired student and/or recent grad, there comes an awesome piece of advice that’s gotten that person where he or she is today.
This week, we talked to three Princeton students who all landed amazing opportunities through WayUp. These three offered to chat with us to share their biggest job search tip for their peers who are still on the hunt. You’ll want to take their words of wisdom to the bank.
1. Be Open to Any Experience
“Don’t limit yourself to certain fields; there are opportunities within each. You could get a lot out of it. Before this internship, I was working for the Department of Employment; that was a pretty random company but I was able to find great PR & marketing opportunities within that environment. I was actually able to learn a ton.” – Catherine Adams, Princeton Class of 2017
Catherine’s advice is especially crucial for young job seekers: It takes a while to gain experience. If you’ve never worked before, you probably won’t land a marketing job at Google right off the bat. However, you can easily cultivate your marketing skills and gain meaningful experience at a company that you wouldn’t typically peg as being “marketing-heavy.”
This summer, using her past experience Catherine was able to find a more straightforward marketing position as a Summer Intern for Infor. However, even Infor is not what most job seekers would consider a typical marketing company. if you’d asked her three months ago if she’d be interning for a company that is the third largest provider of enterprise applications and services, the answer would probably have been no. What Catherine did know is that she wanted to pursue marketing and was willing to explore any company with a great program.
Like most college students, Catherine didn’t magically know that she was passionate about marketing; she learned that she was interested in it by testing out different clubs and classes on campus. “Figuring out [that I was interesting in] marketing was a long journey for me didn’t happen until sophomore year by trying a bunch of things. At Princeton there is an Advertising and Marketing Club that puts on a big conference every semester. That was my first introduction to marketing,” Catherine notes. After that discovery, she pursued a top notch internship to hone in on her skills this summer.
For all of you interesting in marketing, Catherine worked on international campaigns that would be translated and shared worldwide, cultivated her messaging and writing skills, and went to several large conferences (one that even included Adam Levine – random!). She explains that with her first real hands-on experience with marketing, she has learned that “writing in a particular tone has really helped me understand the core of marketing and branding. I’ve also learned a lot about SEO, and Google AdWords. It’s been so helpful to get some actual skills that I can put on a resume besides being proficient in Word.”
All in all, even though Catherine didn’t know what type of company she wanted to work for she was still able to get amazing experience this summer. We’re looking forward to what comes next.
2. Always Make a Personal Connection
“I’ve spent my fair share of time job searching, and I think what was really helpful for me was try to make a personal connection whenever possible. Whether you’re sending an email or making a phone call, try to establish some common ground.” – Daniel Mozley, Princeton Class of 2017
Arguably one of the most frustrating parts of the job search is sending an email or your resume into cyberspace. One of the best ways to avoid that is to make a personal connection from your first touchpoint with a company or hiring manager. A few easy ways to accomplish this:
- Figure out who the hiring manager is. Using a first name is always better than “Dear Hiring Manager…”
- Do your research. If you can find the contact’s name, look him or her up and see if you have any common interests.
- If you can’t find out the hiring manager, research the company’s most recent projects and/or achievements. Tie these back to your interests.
Daniel’s going into his senior year at Princeton and has been cultivating these authentic people skills by tutoring other students through his position at Mentr. “When you’re a tutor, you really have to think about how you explain things and how you convey a message to others. I’ve learned how to listen carefully and figure out how to explain a concept or problem so that it makes sense so that it makes sense to someone other than you.”
During the school year, Daniel also works as a swim instructor on campus working five to 10 hours per week.As a result of these various people-facing jobs, Daniel has developed interpersonal skills allowing him to readily make those initial connections in the job process whether it be the first email interaction or the final interview.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask People for Help
“Sometimes it can be a bit intimidating and you might feel a little awkward, but a lot of times you’ll be surprised how many people want to help.” – Jake Reichel, Class of 2019
The worst thing somebody can say to you is no. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Jake’s lesson is one that can take people years to learn. Talking to people is intimidating, asking questions is intimidating, and asking for help is definitely intimidating. The sooner you get over this fear, the more productive your personal and professional lives will be.
Jake learned this lesson early on by working his way through his freshman year. He explains that when it comes to the job search, “it takes awhile to get acclimated. You need to be able to figure out how to hold up time management wise. Take it slow to get used to school before you start worrying about everything else.”
Jake was able to balance his school work, social life, and a job freshman year by taking on WayUp’s very own Campus Rep position. By approaching his peers as well as learning to report and communicate with a boss Jake learned that in order to get the result you’re looking for, sometimes you just have to do is start talking to people and ask to pick their brains.
WayUp’s CEO, Liz, is on the same page as Jake. In fact, she gives advice to everyone in the company to cold email an idol asking for help.
Some of these tips may seem a little daunting but trust us, the best way to learn is to face your fears and dive right in. In the next couple of weeks, we challenge you to follow at least one of these three tips.