I have the honor of working with some of the best and brightest college students in the world in their search for post-graduate opportunities. A current senior shared her networking story with me and I hope it helps inspire others to power of networking:
I began my internship search the same way many other people do, with a trip to the Career Center. It was only spring of my sophomore year, and while a July departure date for my study abroad program in Australia kept me from pursuing internships for that summer, I was interested in finding out what career options were available for marketing majors. After learning about accessing the alumni network through LinkedIn and the alumni directory, I looked for Notre Dame grads that worked in advertising near my hometown. I found contact information for the CFO of a medium-sized ad agency and decided to e-mail him to request an informational interview. He responded positively, and we set up a phone call for the following week. I asked about his career leading up to his current role at the agency, we talked about the unbelievable season that the Irish men’s lacrosse team was having, and he invited me to visit the office when I returned home for summer vacation two weeks later.
My first day back home in May, I took a train into the city to meet with this person whose only connection to me was Notre Dame. He owed me nothing, he didn’t know hardly anything about me, but was gracious enough to pay my request attention. After a successful visit, I told him I would keep in touch, and over the course of the next year, I made sure that I stayed true to that promise. I sent postcards from my travels abroad, updating him on my adventures and always reaffirming my interest in coming back to the agency in the future. I visited the office again after I returned to the U.S. in December, and continued to send postcards from Notre Dame in the spring. I mentioned my classes, the successes of our sports teams, and my desire to intern at his company the summer after junior year. He connected me with the Human Resources department, and advocated for me as a top candidate for a summer internship. Over 30 e-mails, eight postcards, two office visits, and a Skype interview later, they offered me an internship in their Production department working in project management. I was lucky enough to be at a company that I admired, in an industry in which I was truly interested, and living in a city that I loved. This experience taught me not only about the power of the Notre Dame network, but also about the importance of perseverance and how rewarding landing your dream internship really is.
When I asked the student why she sent postcards, she told me she avoided always sending emails because there can be a pressure/expectation to respond to an email communication. No one feels pressure to respond to a post card, and thus she would send post cards to keep her contact updated but eliminate the need for him to respond. Brilliant.
Hope everyone will have a networking story like this one day.