As a career-driven college students myself, I’m always on the lookout for ways to get my foot in the door at companies I’m looking to land an internship with. But how exactly do you get from point A to “You’re hired”? And what are the first steps to even landing an interview in the first place? I asked a few members of the College Fashionista community the first steps they took to land their dream job.
Reach out to Acquaintances Who Work in the Field You Want to Pursue
Whether it’s a peer, a professor, or just someone you happen to cross paths with, knowing one person in the industry you are pursuing can connect you with a whole new network of potential employers and opportunities. And sometimes you’ll make the most useful connections when you least expect it.
Katie Kane, a sophomore studying journalism at Elon University, landed her internship at the Daily Front Row through a former student she met at sorority recruitment who was working at the company. Even though she ended up in a different sorority, Kane says keeping in contact with the editor paid off in the long run. “I talked to her during a round, and while I didn’t end up in that organization, I asked for her contact information later, interviewed for the position, and got it.” Even in the most unlikely settings, there are always opportunities to make connections with people who can give you inside information on how to get hired in your field. Don’t hesitate to keep in touch with these contacts through email, text, or social media, because they’ll be happy you reached out, and they might just be able to open doors for you and your career.
Approach Leaders You Admire Through Email, Social Media, or Events
If you’re uncertain about how to get an internship but there’s a role that you have your eye on, don’t hesitate to put yourself out there—even if that means sending a cold email. Reaching out to employers shows initiative and is the best chance you have of getting noticed by your dream job.
Boston University sophomore and journalism major Margo Ghertner got her internship at Birchbox this past summer by personally making sure her résumé got into the hands of co-founder and CEO Katia Beauchamp. “As a subscriber of Birchbox, I got an email that she was coming to my town for a meet-and-greet event. I couldn’t be at the event since I was at school, but my mom took my application to her, and they exchanged emails. I am so happy I put myself out there and did something risky. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to even interview.”
Next time you set your sights on a dream job or internship, take the initiative, and make an impression. Reach out to the company over email, inquire about open positions, and keep an eye out for events hosted by the company where you can potentially meet employers in person. You can also use social media to propel your career by following executives and professionals in your industry, giving you a channel you can use to respectfully reach out and express why you admire them or their work. Pro Tip: Keeping your LinkedIn profile updated is a great way to be proactive and allows you to have a professional profile ready to share when you start networking with employers. Being ambitious is always a plus, and it shows that you’re not afraid to make the first move when it comes to your career.
Ask for an Informational Interview with a Potential Mentor
Mentors can not only help you in your internship search by connecting you to opportunities, but they can also offer invaluable advice on how to succeed in your field. Whether your mentor is a former boss, a professor, or a friend of a friend who is making their career in your desired industry, this person can let you know the most important skills to highlight on your résumé, what to expect from an internship, and how to best craft your social media to impress potential employers. Reach out to them to set up an informational interview, which can be as casual as going to coffee and casually chatting or as formal as meeting at their office and going through your most pressing questions.
Brenna Stark, a junior and fashion merchandising major at the University of Delaware, says she’s always on the lookout for mentors who can offer her firsthand career advice. “Because I’m so new to my industry, I go to bosses or my friend’s parents to ask them questions about industry trends or I’ll say, ‘what do you think is a sustainable career in this industry for someone my age with my skillset?’”
Even though it can be intimidating to reach out to your former employers or professors for advice, they’ll appreciate that you asked for their opinion, especially because they most likely had a mentor of their own when they were first starting out. Informational interviews are also great practice for future internship and job interviews since they give you a chance to discuss your interests and aspirations in a low-pressure situation.
Go to Networking Meet-Ups and Job Fairs to Talk to Company Employees
Meet-ups and career fairs are incredible resources when you’re searching for an internship because they are one-stop shops to connect with professionals, learn about different companies, and gain experience talking to and presenting yourself to potential employers.
Stark, who has landed several internships in the fashion industry through these types of events, looks at these networking opportunities as a means to build her list of contacts. “Career fairs and meet-ups are more for you than they are for the employer. It’s all about getting a contact at the company that you can email and send your résumé to later.”
One way to stay updated on meet-ups and job fairs is through your college’s career center, where you can often get updates on when different companies are going to be in town. Your school might even host its own career fair for students, where big-name firms will set up tables providing students information about job opportunities or ways to get involved in their company as student ambassadors. Take advantage of these resources so you can start interacting in the professional world, making connections, and discovering opportunities you might not have otherwise.
Have any tips on how to land your dream internship or job? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo by Katilyn Perry.