Get that job! Networking steps I provided to a student

One of the cool things that I consider a part of my job at a community college is to mentor our students. So, when I met a young lady and she mentioned that her dream job was to work for a particular organization in the Houston area, I offered to buy her lunch and show her how to get the job. She agreed and we had our lunch today!  Below is the steps I gave to her to get her dream job once she graduates from her program (some details changed to protect her identity). What do you think? Do you agree? Is there anything you would add?

A man showing students an electronics room.
From Flickr: USDAgov. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Chief Information Officer (OICO) Information Technology (IT) division hosted a USDA IT Job Shadow Day at USDA. Students from Springbrook High School Academy of Information Technology from Silver Spring, MD received a tour of USDA’s technology center at the Washington Communications Technology Services (WCTS) center in the South Building of USDA in Washington, D. C. WCTS Lead Network Engineer Andre Mbonda explained the complex network systems of USDA to the students. Photo by Bob Nichols.

Steps of proper networking to get a job:

1.       Research the person you are going to contact. What makes them tick? What special research have they done? Did they win an award recently?

2.       Contact the person, tell them who you are and what you are interested in. Let them know, through casual conversation, what you found out during step 1. Ask if you can job shadow them and buy them lunch. If that fails, ask if you can just buy them lunch sometime at a time and place that is convenient for them. For example, “Hello Ms. X. My name is X and I’m interested in becoming a X  am currently in school for this. I saw that you won the X award through the X association the other day and wondered if I could schedule a time to job shadow you and take you out to lunch?”

3.       If yes, schedule a time and location that is convenient for them. NEVER ask them to come to you. If no, ask if there is someone else you can contact and repeat the process for that person. If still no, say thank you and leave it there.

4.       Prepare a list of questions that you want to ask during the job shadow. Don’t ask about salary, but do ask about their educational background, what is their favorite part of the job, what advice they would have for someone like you, etc. You can find a lot of good job shadow questions online.

5.       The day of the job shadow, dress for the job, be 10-15 minutes early, have cash on you for lunch (in case you end up somewhere that doesn’t take credit cards), and a pen and notepad to take notes.

6.       Take notes and ask your questions when you can without interrupting what they are doing. Take special notes of names and titles of people you meet (as potential other jobs shadows, networking, etc.).

7.       Buy the person lunch and thank them every chance you get.

8.       After the shadow, write them a hand-written thank you note. Mail it to them within three days. Be specific in this note. Let them know how much you appreciated their time, and some key take-aways that you learned from them.

9.       Check-in with them at least quarterly. Don’t ask about jobs, just let them know how you are progressing in your schooling and what your next steps are. They’ve taken an active role with you now, so they will be happy to hear these things from you!

10.   You might want to set-up a Google Alert or some other way of monitoring them in the news. That way, if they win an award, get a promotion, etc. you can send them a card congratulating them.

11.   When you graduate, send them an email and let them know you’ve successfully completed school! Ask them who at X organization you should contact to inquire about job opportunities.

12.  Even if it doesn’t lead to a job right away, keep networking with them! I’ve had employers call me years later and tell me about job openings.

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