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Networking and informational interviewing involve having a “career conversation” with someone for the purpose of exploring careers or job searching. These conversations are about building authentic relationships with people who can give you information and advice, not job interviews. Networking serves a number of purposes:
- Help decide if a career field is a good fit for your interests, skills, and personality.
- Gain insight into an organization’s culture.
- Understand which major best prepares you for a certain career path.
- Discover industry trends to follow or professionals you can contact in the future.
- Seek input on your Capstone or research projects.
- Obtain valuable feedback concerning your CV content, structure, and job search strategy.
How to Develop Contacts
Who How Family, friends, university staff, and professors
You’ll be amazed how many contacts you can make through existing relationships. Although you might not have a relationship with someone in a particular field, you may know someone who does.
Are you on LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? WeChat? Tap into alumni networks, professional organizations, as well as existing connections by reaching out to them for the information you’re seeking.
Employer sessions and opportunities fairs
These events can be very useful even if you aren’t looking for an internship or job. You can meet the types of people you want to know.
Campus or community events
The NYUAD Institute, academic departments, and professional organizations in Abu Dhabi are regularly hosting events that you can join to meet people.
How to Ask for a One on One Conversation
You will need to introduce yourself, establish why you’re writing, and make your request in a personal, concise, and clear way. People usually are very willing to help and lend advice, but they need to understand who you are and what you want. See examples below.
My name is Mahra and I am a second year student at NYU Abu Dhabi, studying Film and New Media. After hearing your talk about commercials at TwoFour54, I was fascinated about the potential of video content. The illustrations you shared inspired me to think more broadly and be more curious about new outlets. I would love to learn from you about the direction of this industry in the UAE and get your input about how I can best develop my skills.
Would you be open to a 15-minute conversation sometime in the next two weeks? I am happy to meet you at your office — and I can bring some coffee. Alternatively, we could just talk on the phone or email, whichever works best for you.
New York University Abu Dhabi
BA Film and New Media, Class of 2019
PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi, UAE
As a student at New York University Abu Dhabi studying economics and finance, I have been following the Deutsche Bank response to the current volatility with interest rates, economic slowness, and currency issues. I recently came across the interview you did with the Financial Times, and saw that you are an NYU alumnus. I would love to hear more about how you transitioned from New York to banking in London, and how you’ve adapted to the European and Middle Eastern markets in light of the current economic climate.
I am studying away in London over the next 12 weeks. Would you be free for 20-minute in the next few weeks for a chat? I understand that your schedule is really full, and I am happy to bring lunch by your office or meet you after work.
New York University Abu Dhabi
BA Economics, Specialization in Finance, Class of 2020
PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi, UAE
Maximizing the Experience
Develop a 30-second introduction or “elevator pitch” to make your outreach efforts in-person as effective as possible.
Consider the following questions:
- Who are you? Introduce yourself and begin to tell your story. Indicate your name, school, and major (or area of a focus).
- What do you have in common? Are they an alumni? Do you have a shared contact? Are you members of the same social organization or network? What is the context of your meeting?
- What sets you apart? Incorporate a high-level overview of your unique skills, experiences, or accomplishments. This piece of your introduction will likely change the most often.
- What are you seeking? Are you looking for insight about the field through an informational interview? Are you seeking more in-depth internship and job search advice in your field of interest? Make your intentions clear to the people you’re connecting with, but do not ask for a job.
During the Conversation
- Respect their time by honoring the time agreed upon and moving the conversation to a close 5 minutes prior to the end of your meeting.
- Remember that even though you may want an internship or job, it is not appropriate to ask for one.
- Inquire about other professionals or organizations you can contact and if you can say you were referred by them.
- Dress appropriately and be courteous to everyone you encounter.
- Observe what types of skills and knowledge someone needs to perform this role.
- Thank your contact and others at the site who were helpful.
Maximize your experience by preparing specific questions in advance.
- What led you into this career?
- What does a typical day look like?
- Which professional organizations would you recommend I join?
- Which publications should I be reading to learn more about this field?
- What types of education and experience are most needed in this field?
- What types of skills and knowledge are important to perform this job well?
- What is the most challenging and/or frustrating aspect of your position?
- Where do you see the profession going?
- How did you go about finding this job?
- What would you advise me if I chose to pursue this career?
- Who else would you recommend I talk to? Are you willing to introducing me to them?
- Are you open to giving me feedback on my CV?
The people you meet now can be influential in your life now or later. Consider the best way to stay in touch.
- Request a business card/contact information following new conversations and connect with them through LinkedIn.
- Send a thank-you email expressing your gratitude for their time within 24 hours.
- Maintain contact by sending existing contacts brief updates on how you’re progressing through your career.
- Share relevant articles or news when appropriate.
- Keep notes on your conversations so you can follow-up appropriately and accurately.
- Follow through on all leads and deliver what you promised, building your positive reputation and that of the person who referred you.