Young Alumni Dish on Networking and Job Interviews

On Thursday November 3rd, 2011 four young alumni visited our PRSSA chapter to offer their insight on how to start your career and manage that jump from school to the real world. The panel included:

All of the alumni agreed that networking is a key first step in the job hunting process.  According to Eric, “it takes years to build that network” that puts you in a situation where you have lots of connections and it’s best to go forward with a “holistic approach.”

In order to build up a strong network, it’s important to make a multitude of connections and continuously invest in those relationships. As DJ said, “consider now as a friend making networking process…[and] seek out people you find interesting.” As a student it is important to always remain professional, but also show that you’re a person.  To truly make a connection with someone, find out what you have in common to talk about and show you’re genuine interest in what they do. This creates truer and longer lasting connections with professionals you meet.

It is important to keep in mind too, however, that even if you have the biggest network in the world, you still have to go through the job hunting process. By having built strong connections, your search may become easier but the effort doesn’t end there. As graduation approaches, hopefully you’re lucky enough to get some interviews and get a better understanding of the organization and have the chance to show them why you would be an asset to their team. These alumni had many good tips to offer as they just recently went through the process:

  • DJ: “Just make people like you; add value… An interview is a first date; be charming; be lovely; be yourself.”
  • Eric: “The best interviews are intelligent conversations, not Q and A sessions.”

One important thing that all of the panelists mentioned: you need to make yourself stand out, show off what you’ve learned, and explain how it would apply to a potential job. For example, if you mentioned that you have a blog, focus less on what you did, and more on what you learned from it and accomplished with it. By showcasing your skills and experiences you are displaying your ability to adapt, learn, and apply your previous knowledge.

All of these tips were found to be extremely helpful by all those who attended the panel and it makes the job hunting process seem like a more opportunistic process rather than a scary one. As long as you’re active and personable, you’ve got a shot!

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