Advice for Future Graduates
Graduation is coming up. I’ve been noticing a lot of soon-t0-be graduates scrambling to send out resumes. I remember graduating, and I remember the rush to get a job. You give up the dreams of finding that perfect position in the company you’ve always dreamed of working at and take the first job that gives you a decent paycheck. My advice would be to reach out to people in positions and companies that you want to be in, and learn as much from them as you can.
Reach Out - If you go to school in Boston there is a great community around you that will talk to you, give you advice, help you find a job, and help you navigate the search and identify which companies to look at.
At every stage of your career you should be looking to meet interesting people, not just the beginning. I use Linkedin and Twitter typically to find new people. Here is an effective email template to try:
- Try to find someone in common who can make an introduction. If you can’t, that’s fine, still go for it. I’ve met plenty of people without introduction.
- Make your introduction email short. I use three paragraph with only 1–2 sentences per paragraph.
- First paragraph must be something that both catches their attention and makes sure they know you’ve done your research. For this reason, I usually congratulate them on some recent news about them or their company.
- Be direct, don’t be soft in asking what you want. Try to meet them for coffee, lunch or a drink. If they don’t have time, but are willing to meet they will always offer up a call instead (that’s fine).
- Tell them what you want help with. If you’re looking at starting a marketing career, do your research, figure out some questions that will help you stand out, and put them in the email. This helps them realize if they can or can’t help you. If you’ve done your research, they should be able to help you.
- Keep it short. I know I said this up top, but its key. The person is likely busy, a short email with a direct call to action actually makes it easier for them to respond quickly.
This email has a 90% response rate with a simple 3 paragraph 5–6 sentence email. You would be surprised at who will find time to meet with you, so do it. If you don’t hear back after the first try, follow up, people are busy and there is nothing to lose by following up.
Meet Someone before you apply - Use Linkedin to identify people at the companies that you are looking to apply for. Getting to know someone will make it more likely your resume gets seen, and its also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company.
Learn the landscape - Here are some great resources to learn about the companies, events and people.
- Hitchhiker’s Guide to Boston Tech
- VentureFizz — Use the Job Board, and look at Deals to see what companies have raised money
- Bostinno — Good source of news about Boston Tech
- BetaBoston — Another great source of new about Boston Tech
- BostonTweet - Tweets: events, news and companies that are hiring
- Tech in Boston — Interviews with people building companies in Boston
Be aggressive in going to events and meeting people. Don’t be shy. You can learn a lot and meet a lot of great people. Get off campus.
Look for roles with focus - Don’t look for a job where you can “wear a lot of hats”. Trying to diversify your career and learn a lot of things early on will slow your career down. Find a job where you can do one thing really well. If you get a job in a specific field of marketing like SEO, learn SEO and crush it. People who become domain experts and hit their goals progress in their careers, not people who try to help out with everything.
Find companies that are growing - You can learn a lot by starting your own company, but don’t be afraid to go learn on someone else’s dime. A lot of great start-ups were started by people right out of college, but I’d bet even more have been started by people who joined a high growth company, learned how it worked, and then took those lessons with them to start their own thing. There are a ton of companies that will go public in the next couple of years or that have gone public recently in Boston. Create a list and try to join one of these. By joining these company you will also create a great network of successful people.
At the end of the day, you should take advantage of the fact that you’re going to school in a great city, with a lot of great companies. Don’t be afraid to reach out (feel free to email me short (at) workable) or anyone else you come across on Linkedin. The worst thing that could happen is they ignore you, and the best case scenario way outweighs the worst case.