The Networking Process
- Assess your interests and skills and choose occupations, career areas, or organizations to investigate. Career counselors can help you with self-assessment process.
- Find alums in the online directory by searching for the field you chose. Searches can be done by majors, company, career, geographic location, and graduation year. Try doing multiple searches to maximize your results.
- Contact the alum to ask if she is willing to answer a few of your questions via e-mail or partake in a telephone informational interview.
- Prepare for this opportunity by researching the field or organization and compiling a list of your questions.
If you are interested in a phone interview, state clearly in the e-mail the time at which you will call to arrange the interview and follow through with this plan. You can also ask the alum to suggest a time by e-mail if he prefers and say you will call to arrange the interview if there is a time conflict or if you don't hear from him.
For those of you wanting to ask a few questions in an e-mail, ask if this is okay and wait for a response.
Remember, alumni are typically very busy with work and other obligations. Realize you may need to try more than once to contact them and that they may not respond at all. allow a minimum of one week between your initial contact and a second attempt.
The subject line of your email should be similar to "Current Carleton student seeking career information." It is important to be concise yet complete in your email: many people automatically delete lengthy messages or those with suspicious subject headers. Tell the alum who you are, where you located her email address, and why you would like an informational interview. Proofread before sending.
- If you and the alum decide to proceed with email, make sure you ask what you want to know but do not overwhelm your contact.
- For phone interviews, be sure to call precisely at the agreed upon time and ask your relevant questions in an attentive, interested, and professional manner. Remember to verify time zones if contacting someone in a different time zone. Phone interviews typically last for 15-30 minutes.
- Send a thank you note within 24 hours of the interview or reception of the answers to your e-mailed questions. U.S. mail or e-mail are both appropriate.
- Follow up with your contact if she expressed interest in your search or asked to be kept informed of your career progress.