Nearing the end of the school year, I get asked a lot, by parents and teachers, how to help students get into internships and even first jobs.
This is my lecture in high school and college classes where I guest.
Heavily use LinkedIn and learn to Search and Connect.
Now, when I say LinkedIn, I do see most young people react with, “Isn’t that for jobs? Like regular jobs in the office??” or, “I haven’t done much relevant to that job.” (yes, you have by the way, you just don’t realize it).
They miss the point.
All companies are on LinkedIn and so too, if not the Person or job type you want, are many of the other people who work there.
Create a stellar LinkedIn profile, with accomplishments (not roles) and skills, and someone like me would take you on with few interviews (if any).
Show what you can do, don’t just tell. Add videos, a link to a website, presentations, news articles, or the other material that supports what you did while in that Club, or Class, or Group, part-time job or even high school gig.
Then learn to Search. Google and then LinkedIn. Find all the companies doing the work you desire, where you want to be. Don’t search for the internships! Search for the places doing the work you desire. Some examples:
- Video game studios in Los Angeles
- Chicago advertising agencies
- Blockchain developers in Miami
- Startup incubators in Austin
Don’t search for jobs (or internships), search for the places and people. Next, look them up on LinkedIn and Connect. Follow the Company, pull up People on the company page, and start connecting with them. On LinkedIn, like Google, you can search too for people at places. Do that.
Connect connect connect. (start here!)
You don’t need to have met them! You don’t need to know them!
Social Media (Networks) make money by people being *disconnected* (if you’re not connected to people, you’re more likely to pay for access or promotion).
Not everyone will connect but many will.
Message them and be honest: Here’s what I do, here’s what I’m seeking, I’d love your advice.
Asking for advice is the secret. It’s a Startup Venture Capital trick, “Ask for funding and they give you advice, but ask for advice and they give you money.” – you want the job/role so you ask for advice.
In time a few things happen:
- Your profile looks even more compelling because you are connected
- You get to know people in the companies where you’d like to work
- That social network becomes more meaningful to you because you start seeing the news and posts from those companies and people.
You don’t need to go to the “right” school to know the right people. You don’t need specifically relevant experience; you need to show accomplishment.
The internet, as it is, used, makes that possible. (By the way, you can *learn* anything on the internet too)
As you ask more and more people for advice, they say, “sure!” and then as more of 1, 2, and 3 happens, it’s more likely someone actually just says, “well you should come here!”
[photo: The Internship; directed by Shawn Levy (2013)]