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)]
Great advice, Paul.
Great advice, I know in college I prioritized my LinkedIn and received opportunities because I was being proactive and posting about my projects and interests.
Outstanding! I wish this advice was available “back in the day” 🙂
Yes! I wish we could get this simple advice into the minds of more students.
I will definitely implement some of these points, most I cover and do religiously and the result is I’ve been interviewing with Paramount, PCSI and Indeed in the last month. What Paul says works!
Thank you, Alexis, appreciate the support and that’s awesome to hear about how it’s going!
Networking is a skill and asset. Both need to be acquired and cultivated.
Employers Gabriel Krizin no, but I wish I did. Or rather more so, I’m fixated on how startups could take on more interns; would love to dig into that.
Paul, thanks for sharing this post! I love it for two different reasons. As a seasoned geospatial industry leader I get a lot of young bloods asking for internships. While I do my very best to help each person that reaches out, I feel more compelled to go that extra mile for those who seek advice and really are curious about how to best approach the industry. From the other side, as an owner of a startup, it can be terrifying trying to fund raise and convince people of those things we are so passionate about! I love the humbling aspect of this and realizing that asking for advice from those who have blazed the trail is a great way to go!
You subtly bring up a great point readers hopefully appreciate, “I get a lot asking” and “While I do my very best to help each person…”
What prompts your target (internship seekers) to go the extra mile for you?
We WANT to help everyone, but it’s really just not possible in many cases. I, for example, work with startup founders and though I’d love to have coffee and share advice with everyone who wants to connect with me, I’d have no time left in the day were I to try.
Similar in these thoughts about seeking an intern are lessons for startup founders: use Google to find WHO/WHERE you want to be, use LinkedIn to CONNECT with everyone relevant, and make it evident to your targets that you are engaged, passionate, and determined about where you want to be.
And yes, as Brent Slone, seeking advice is a magical way of getting someone’s attention ?
Paul O’Brien, thank you for sharing these great insights! Like you, I hear from quite a few parents this time of year about internships for their kids – sadly, it is very rare that I hear from the students themselves. And when we do hear from students directly, we do whatever we can to set up an internship, or at a bare minimum, a project or two that will expose them to the corporate world. The biggest piece of advice I share is for students to not be dissuaded by their status as a student. We were all students at some point, and if they are honest in their outreach, the odds are they will get a response from the executive they are contacting. I just had a high school senior reach out to me in late Feb, asking about an internship. Although we don’t have a formal program, my team and I put together 3 projects, and we all took 1 hour to meet with her to provide some insight into our jobs. It’s all about sharing and exposing these young professionals to the corporate world 🙂
Paul, thanks for providing such important information to those kids who will benefit from it as well as the companies who need to be better informed about providing internships. The time will come for my daughter and I will save this information for her. Marc
Great advice Paul. A lot of young people contact me for advice about opportunities in the vast equine industry. I am always happy to talk to them.
Good advice, sharing with my daughter.