Keeping Track of the Interview Trail
Let's talk about record keeping again. If your networking works the way it's supposed to, this was only the first of many such interviews. Experts have estimated that the average person could develop a contact list of 250 people. Even if we limit your initial list to only 100, if each of them gave you one referral, your list would suddenly have 200 names. Presuming that it will not be necessary or helpful to see all of them, it's certainly possible that such a list could lead to 100 informational and/or job interviews! Unless you keep accurate records, by the time you're on No. 50, you won't even remember the first dozen!
So get the results of each interview down on paper. Use whatever format with which you're comfortable. You should create some kind of file, folder, or note card that is an "Interview Recap Record." If you have access to a personal computer, take advantage of it. It will be much easier to keep you information stored in one place and well organized. Your record should be set up and contain something like the following:
Name: XYZ Media, Inc.
Address: 333 E. 54th St., NY, NY10000
Phone: (212) 555 4000
Contact: Robert L Jones
Type of Business: Public relations
Referral Contact: Mr. Fredericks, Fidelity National Bank
Date: January 30, 1993
At this point, you should add a one or two paragraph summary of what you found out at the meeting. Since these comments are for your eyes only, you should be both objective and subjective. State the facts what you found out in response to your specific questions but include your impressions your estimate of the opportunities for further discussions, your chances for future consideration for employment
"I Was Just Calling To..."
Find any logical opportunity to stay in touch with Mr. Jones. You may, for example, let him know when you graduate and tell him your grade point average, carbon him in on any letters you write to Mr. Fredericks, even send a congratulatory note if his company's year end financial results are positive or if you read something in the local paper about his department This type of follow up has the all important effect of keeping you and your name in the forefront of others' minds. Out of sight is out of mind. No matter how talented you may be or how good an impression you i69 made, you'll have to work hard to "stay visible.''
There Are Rules, Just Like Any Game
It should already be obvious that the networking process is not only effective, but also quite deliberate in its objectives. There are two specific groups of people you must attempt to target those who can give you information about an industry or career area and those who are potential employers. The line between these groups may often blur. Don't be concerned you'll soon learn when (and how) to shift the focus from interviewer to interviewee.
To simplify this process, follow a single rule: Show interest in the field or job area under discussion, but wait to be asked about actually working for that company. During your informational interviews, you will be surprised at the number of times the person you're interviewing turns to you and asks, "Would you be interested in...?" Consider carefully what's being asked and, if you would be interested in the position under discussion, make your feelings known.
If the Process Scares You
Some of you will undoubtedly be hesitant about, even fear, the networking process. It is not an unusual response it is very human to want to accomplish things "on your own," without anyone's help. Understandable and commendable as such independence might seem, it is, in reality, an impediment if it limits your involvement in this important process. Networking has such universal application because there is no other effective way to bridge the gap between job applicant and job. Employers are grateful for its existence. You should be, too.
The College Community's Viewpoint
The college and university community has an outstanding record of internship support. They apply high standards to assure if s time well spent for both student and employer. There is also a good possibility that you can receive college credit for your internship. Boston University College of Communication Professor and internship director Gerald Powers notes that, "We have about 100 students interning at any one time during the summer, or as part of the senior year curriculum. They must have a 3.0 grade point average or better to qualify. The employers we work with are wonderfully supportive.
"My only criticism is that in some instances, the students have a justifiable gripe about too little supervision. In those instances, I suggest to them and their employers that they draw up a 'memo of understanding' of mutual expectations right at the start, and agree to checkpoints during the term. That keeps all concerned focused. Without this or other mechanisms, it's all too easy in a fast paced, frantic public relations environment to simply ignore the intern."
But the overwhelming number of internship investments work. Says Professor Powers, "A former student of mine, who interned at Polaroid Corporation and who's now a senior communications officer at a Rhode Island bank, said that from his own experience and from what he's observed since, 'if you sent me a straight A student without internship experience, and an A B C student with an exceptional internship, we'd most likely select the latter."'