Use your Network (Yes You Have One)
Many people think, "I don’t have a network." Not so. You are connected with many more people than you realize. Once you begin to use your network, you will see how far it reaches. For starters, it’s not about finding someone to hire you. Sometimes it is about talking to people who give you leads, or can point you to someone who runs a company that needs interns, or a company they heard is hiring people in your area. Sometimes it is a professor telling you about a conference for your research paper where you meet an employer.
A good contact can get your resume read by people who count, arrange for you to meet key executives, set up interviews and say the right things to the right people. So where do you find those contacts?
Who Are My Contacts?
Start with the obvious: Friends, relatives, former employers, youth sports coaches, friend's parents, the family doctor, lawyer, minister, rabbi, priest, realtor, tax specialist, banker, librarian -- the list goes on and on. Each is a potential source of contacts to your career area of interest or to your target organizations. Let everyone know about your job search, your interests, ambitions and dreams.
Ask all of your contacts for the names of people who might provide you with additional insight into your chosen career area, or more directly, names of those to whom you might send your resume. Take advantage of the techniques used in Interviewing for Information
Other sources of contacts:
➢ Other students
➢ Newspaper articles about people who have achieved in the field you'd like to enter
➢ Community groups of business leaders
➢ Anyone you meet socially who takes an interest in your career goals
➢ Local suppliers or clients of your target organizations
Virtually all career fields have their own professional associations, from gravy and sauce makers to the Venetian blind launderers. Most associations have local or regional groups, which may meet quarterly or even monthly. Often, non-members can attend a meeting or two before joining. The meetings feature speakers and offer a tremendous opportunity to make contact with people who are in a position to be of fairly direct help. Sometimes the associations will have job postings in the association newsletter or on the Internet. Often recruitment occurs at the national meetings. Many organizations offer student membership fees at greatly reduced prices. Join. Get involved! Volunteer for committee work! This can be job search activity at its most productive.
The Career Center staff can help you find the associations and match your career interests. Professional association resources on the Internet include:
➢ Association Central
➢ Gateway to Associations On-line
➢ IPL Associations on the Net
➢ Yahoo's list of Professional Associations
The Internal Approach
This strategy requires that you take a volunteer position, internship, cooperative education placement or a lower level position in an organization of interest to you. You use the position to establish personal contacts with as many people as possible and to gain valuable experience. Many cooperative education positions with the federal government can be used to enter otherwise closed systems.