Networking Trumps 100 Job Applications

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We write about it on College Mag over and over: Network with your professor, network with family friends, network with your peers…

…But is anyone listening? In the past week I’ve watched two of my friends in their mid-twenties underestimate the power of networking.

Today, it’s more fact than opinion: You must network to get the internship/job you want. And by network, I don’t mean connecting on LinkedIn. I mean choosing one career you’re passionate about (Just pick something; it doesn’t have to be your path for the rest of your life) contacting anyone in that field and setting up a coffee date to learn more. That’s right, I said it, email or call another human. Don’t feel intimidated that they won’t want to talk to you; people are honored when someone asks for their advice.

My sophomore year, I applied for an editorial internship with Washingtonian Magazine. I put my best efforts towards my application, and as much as I thought I was qualified, I wasn’t selected. A few weeks later, I had a class assignment that required us to hold an informational interview with an employer. I chose the assistant editor at Washingtonian, meanwhile thinking, I’ll show her the kind of intern she missed out on hiring. I called her office phone, told her about my passion for magazine journalism and said I would love to take her to coffee to learn more about her role at Washingtonian and how she got to where she is today. She said yes!

I prepared and printed out 10 questions to ask her, dressed in business casual and drove thirty minutes into Washington DC for a quick coffee. While I never re-applied to Washingtonian, that meeting is the reason for my success today. She told me that I needed to build my portfolio and how to do it. She talked about ways to get involved in journalism that I hadn’t thought of before (such as write for a newsletter or small publication at my school, even one that no one read, just to get my first clip). It turned out that I really wasn’t qualified to be at Washingtonian. But with her advice, I worked on getting published clips which then helped me secure an editorial internship at Washington Spaces magazine, a connection through my English professor. That summer I interned at my university’s Alumni Association’s magazine with a recommendation from my friend Jen, a former intern. And during my senior year, I was hired for my first job at a consulting firm after networking with a former classmate who was already working for the company.

While I witness my friends sending online job applications, I think about how I’ve never heard anyone tell me a success story through this process. I dare you to ask 10 employed people how they got their jobs. I bet it’s through a friend of a friend, a professor or family member. If you do, leave a comment to let me know the majority response.

As College Magazine's Publisher, Amanda is passionate about creating the ultimate guide to college. She spends her free time soaking in the sun at Coronado dog beach or rocking her air guitar at The Casbah.

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