Informational Interviewing

By: Ria Kalinowski

Networking is a crucial, and often underutilized, method for finding your next job or co-op. Informational interviewing is a form of networking that helps you gain valuable connections and insight into your target industry. Learn about company culture, what tools, skills, and/or certifications are essential to the industry, and how influential people got where they are.

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Where do I start?

Create a list of target companies where you would like to work. Use the “People also viewed” feature on LinkedIn company pages or the “Similar Companies Nearby” feature on Buzzfile to create a list of companies that you are interested in learning more about. Find professionals at those companies or similar companies that hold positions of interest on company websites or LinkedIn. Use the “See alumni” tool on Wentworth’s LinkedIn page to find contacts with whom you already have something in common. You can also conduct informational interviews with professors, friends, family members, or colleagues or ask them for recommendations of people to speak with. 

How do I reach out?

Connect with people you want to speak with through email, LinkedIn, or over the phone. Use emails4corporations to find people’s email addresses. You can ask to connect with people on LinkedIn with a tailored message or message them directly if you are members of the same group. Use the Informational Interviewing handout and the Informational Interview Email Samples handout for guidance on what to say. 

How do I prepare?

As an informational interview is a chance for you to get advice, you will be asking the majority of the questions. Thoroughly research the company and person you will be meeting with to ask intelligent questions. Explore their website, their social media channels, and any current news stories about them. Don’t ask questions that you can answer with a quick Google search. Ask open-ended questions and follow the TIARA Framework (Trends, Insights, Advice, Resources, Assignments) to allow your connection to talk about themselves. Asking questions in this order “maximizes the chance that that stranger becomes an advocate by the end of the conversation”[1].

What does an informational interview look like?

An informational interview usually lasts 20-30 minutes. Don’t take up too much of your connection’s time and make the location convenient to them as they are doing you a favor. Although it is best to meet with them in-person, informational interviews can also happen over Skype or the phone. In-person meetings help you to make a more lasting impression so remember to dress and behave professionally. Oftentimes, you will meet at your connection’s place of business which gives you more opportunity to view the company culture first hand. Have your most recent resume with you but don’t give it to them unless they ask. Remember: you are not there to ask for a job, just to ask for advice! Ask them your questions, take good notes, and don’t go over the time limit that was set. Thank them at the end, ask to stay connected with them over LinkedIn, and see if they are willing to recommend anyone else that you can contact for additional advice.

What next?

Using the notes that you took, send a thank you note within 24 hours. Reference something you spoke about or a resource they wanted you to check out. Attach your resume to the email, if you hadn’t already had a chance to provide it, asking for their feedback. Make sure to follow-up with the resources, assignments, or contacts that they provided to you. Set a recurring monthly calendar alert to reconnect with the individual and mention how their advice has helped you.

Over time, you will develop a network of people who you can reach out to when it is time to conduct your next co-op or job search. You will also gain valuable information about what direction to take your career and what it takes to get there.

[1] Informational Interviewing with Steve Dalton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FsUm5noXEM

Picture Source: wikiHow

 

“This American Workplace: Slang for International Students”

By: Ria Kalinowski

Let’s “Get the Ball Rolling” (i.e., Start Something)

Americans use a lot of slang. Slang is the use of phrases or terms, typically in an informal setting, that have come to stand for something else. It is most common to hear slang used in informal conversations as opposed to during more formal language such as presentations or interviews. You will almost never see slang in formal writing. If someone uses a slang phrase or term in conversation which you do not understand, you can often use the context to figure it out. In some cases, the slang phrase that is used may be loosely related to the slang meaning. The phrase, “don’t bite off more than you can chew”, means not to take on a task that is too large.

“Keep Your Eye on the Ball” (i.e., Remain Alert)

There are many American slang phrases and terms that are related to sports. If someone says to you, “don’t drop the ball”, they mean they don’t want you to make an error or miss an opportunity. This saying is derived from sports like baseball or American football where a player may be penalized for dropping the ball during the game. For example, if someone assigns you a project at work, they may say, “don’t drop the ball” and mean that they don’t want you to mess up the project.

Another sports-related slang phrase is, “behind the eight-ball”. This saying is from the game of pool and refers to someone being in a bad or difficult position. If a colleague gives a presentation at work and it doesn’t go well because they weren’t prepared or if someone misses a project deadline because they started working on the project too late, someone might say that they were, “behind the eight-ball”.

Here is a list of additional sports slang: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sports_idioms.

It’s Not Always “A Piece of Cake” (i.e., Easy)

Not all American slang phrases or terms are related to sports. If someone tells you to “hold your horses”, it means they want you to wait or calm down. This phrase comes from a time when horses were a major form of transportation and it literally meant to pull up on a horse you were riding or driving from a wagon to make the horse stop.

A “couch potato” is someone who sits on the couch all day watching television. It can be used to refer to people who are lazy.

Here is a list of additional slang: http://www.fluentu.com/english/blog/essential-english-idioms/?lang=en

Let’s “Cut to the Chase” (i.e., Get to the Point)

So, if you are in a situation where people around you are using slang, “don’t have a cow” (i.e., be worried). Use the situational or conversational context to figure out what they are saying. Or, you could ask! Most Americans will be happy to explain what they mean.

The Benefits of Co-op Institute

By: Ria Kalinowski

It’s fall of your junior year at Wentworth and what’s looming over your head? Co-op search. You have no idea how to get started and you’re already busy with classes. Instead of waiting until the last minute and scrambling to throw together a resume and submit applications, join Co-op Institute! Co-op Institute is a six-week course that meets for 50 minutes once a week and provides students with support for all aspects of the co-op search.

Weekly Topics

Resumes
Cover Letters
Networking
Job Search
Interviewing
Co-op Insights

Tangible Takeaways

Approved resume
Access to search for co-ops on WITworks
Draft of a cover letter
Beginnings of a LinkedIn profile
Relevant handouts and videos
Professional padfolio for those who complete the course

Your Co-op + Career Advisor will teach you how to write a resume and review one you’ve made. You will meet with them one-on-one to get your resume approved and ask any specific questions you may have. If you are searching in a certain geographical area or for a specific type of co-op, they can give you resources or suggestions for targeting your search. In class, your advisor will discuss how and when to write a cover letter as well as the benefits of using LinkedIn.

 

What You Will Learn

Your Co-op + Career Advisor will explain the co-op process and what paperwork you will need to complete to get credit for and then pass your co-op. He or she will show you how to use WITworks to upload documents and search for co-op positions. In class, you will examine job postings and discuss how to tailor your application materials to each position. Networking techniques will be reviewed and you will learn what to do at a career fair or other employer events. You will get an overview of different types of interviews as well as how to be successful before, during, and after an interview. During the last week, you will also get co-op tips either from an employer or from Wentworth students who have been on co-op before. This is a great opportunity to network with an employer or ask about other students’ first-hand experiences.

 

Practical Experience

Craft and practice an elevator pitch
Practice answering interview questions using the PAR/STAR method
Use class time to search for jobs using WITworks and other job search engines
Get an introduction to LinkedIn and explore best networking practices

 

Final Words

Co-op Institute is the perfect spring board for your co-op search. You will begin to build a relationship with your Co-op + Career Advisor or, if your class is taught by a different Co-op + Career Advisor, you will become familiar with someone in the Co-ops + Careers Department. You will be the first to know about upcoming employer events and get quick access to search for co-op positions on WITworks. All your questions about the co-op process will be answered and you will gain a better understanding of what it takes to be successful during your co-op and even a full-time job search!

 

Spring Cleaning for Your Social Media

By: Ria Kalinowski

Spring is here! Flowers are blooming and whether you are searching for your co-op or a full-time position, it’s time to dust off your social media accounts. Presenting your best self while job searching is extremely important. You need to make sure your social media presence is helping you do that as employers often check applicants’ social media during the hiring process. Here are some tips for cleaning up and improving your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles.

LinkedIn

· Update your photo! Make sure your picture is recent and professional.

· Boost your Search Engine Optimization! Add industry specific keywords to your headline and summary. Adding relevant words increases the chance that your profile comes up when employers and recruiters search for potential employees.

· Grow your network by joining groups! You can learn about what people in your industry are talking about and contribute to the discussion. You can also send direct messages to people who are members of the groups you are a part of. See the handout, ‘Joining Groups on LinkedIn’ for more information.

· Additional Tips: https://www.recruiter.com/i/5-steps-to-take-when-using-linkedin-to-network-for-a-job/

Twitter

· Improve your bio by including hashtags and keywords. You only have 160 characters!

· Pin a tweet! You can select one of your tweets to stay at the top of your twitter updates. Choose a professional tweet that relates to your industry.

· Update your list of people and companies to follow. Use your target list of companies and this article to focus the content you see on your twitter timeline.

Facebook

· Review, and delete or un-tag yourself from any unprofessional photos. You don’t want to lose a job opportunity because of inappropriate pictures on your profile!

· Also, be cautious about violating privacy policies if you post pictures of current or past work environments.

· Clean out your contacts: remove any friends that you are no longer in contact with or assign them to groups such as Acquaintances to limit their access to your profile.

· Take control of your privacy! Go to your Privacy Settings and limit the sections of your profile that are public. In the Timeline & Tagging Settings you can also limit who can post to your timeline and be able to review any posts before they appear on your timeline! Keep in mind that even if you limit access, people may still be able to view sections of your profile that you wanted to keep private depending on how they are connected to you. Best practice: remove all unflattering content!

 

Happy cleaning!