By: Spice Walker
Cold emailing is an art and should literally be a class in itself (read Madi McCallum’s piece on it to get you up to speed). I receive a lot of emails from people looking for internships or wanting to connect around this time of year. I remember sending these myself and stressing for at least 10 minutes before I actually hit “send.” Now that I’ve been on the receiving end of several of these emails, I’ve picked up a few dos and don’ts that can be helpful when reaching out to fellow Ducks, recruiters, or potential connects.
If you love the agency’s work, don’t just say that. Prove it.
I’ve seen plenty of emails that praise the agency’s work, but don’t reference a piece of work that they like. If you see that an agency just did a campaign during the Oscars, say why you love it! Explain why it was smart work, why it made you feel something. Or even showcase how the idea has legs based on your cultural insight/knowledge. This shows that you did your research and are excited to work on such brands within the company.
If there are a lot of Ducks at an agency, don’t use that as a reason for wanting to work there.
People want to hear that you are ready to bring a unique set of skills and experience to the teams, not that you just care about being around fellow alum (even though I do love this aspect of where I work). In addition, people want to see a range of diverse backgrounds when hiring for teams, so bring that to the forefront.
Perfect your résumé name.
OfficialRésumé. FirstNameLastNameRésumé. LastName_Résumé_Date. When it comes to your resume title, I always recommend “FirstName_LastName_Role_Résumé” or “LastName_FirstName_Role_Agency.” It helps decipher the role that you are looking for, and that this resume was specifically crafted for the given agency. Little details like this can go a long way. And: take the time to add accents to the Es. It shows attention to detail.
Have a tangible end goal.
After reading cold emails, I’m sometimes left asking myself: Do they want me to send their résumé through? Do they want me to answer questions for them about the internship? Do they want me to look at their portfolio? Make your intentions known, and provide some questions that help you achieve your end goal. If you want someone to be a mentor, start off with some initial questions: Can you take a look at my résumé and provide any builds? Can you let me know one quality that you look for in an intern? Questions like this show that you’re being thoughtful and intentional about how you engage people. Plus, it takes the guesswork out for the person on the other end.
Make your New York Experience stand out.
I always appreciate when people give context to their NY trip experience and highlight what they took away. After all — 100 other people can say that they went on the NY trip. Find a way to make your experience stand out!
Sell the skills you have to offer.
Agencies are looking to invest in young people who can provide a return on investment. So share how you can add value, along with your willingness to dig in and learn! Do you have social or digital skills that you can contribute to an account? Did you work on an AHA campaign with a crazy timeline, showing your ability to constantly think on your feet? Make it known that you have some kickass skills to bring to the table if given the opportunity.
If someone offers to give advice and answer questions, take it!
While someone might not be able to give you an internship at the moment, people can be more generous than you think. You never know where a chat could lead, so continue the email conversation by asking questions! “Even though your agency isn’t hiring, do you know any other people that might be good for me to speak to? I’m most interested in _____.” Or, “What was something that made you stand out while you were applying to internships?”
Consider these bullets the next time you draft an email, and happy internship/job hunting!
Spice DeVie Phoenix Walker (yes, real name) is currently working as a Strategist at Rokkan in New York City. When she’s not at work, you can find her at your local Sweetgreen. Follow her on Instagram.