Even though we have heard it time and time again, it is important to acknowledge that the job search truly does come down to networking. When I started at Hamilton, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do post-graduation. However, through internships and informational interviews, I have found myself excited to be heading towards a career in finance at Bloomberg. Even though my first internship was for a non-profit during the summer after my freshman year, individuals and information from that early experience were key players during the pinnacle of my job search in my senior year.
No matter if you’re in an office for an interview or internship, or even meeting professionals in a casual setting, it is valuable to ask questions about their career experience. It is very helpful to hear how adults speak about their jobs and it is great practice for when it comes down to those final interviews during your senior year. Even though a conversation about a vague interest in finance might seem insignificant during your sophomore year, by senior year, the buildup of these interactions will have noticeably improved your confidence and knowledge.
It is also important to view networking conversations and interviews as a test of your own interest—not just a first impression. It is okay to reach out to a professional and spend 30 minutes on the phone with them about one industry or job role and then later realize it might not be for you. Those conversations were not a waste of time for me. In fact, I found these experiences ultimately helped me confirm what I do want to do. Yes, interviews are meant for the potential employer to gauge their interest in you, but it is also a two-way street. You need to also feel confident in the people and the job role. At the end of the day, networking and interviewing is about you and it is important not to lose sight of that.
I also found that I could never be over prepared for a networking conversation or an interview. Even if it might seem like a casual conversation, it is critical to be aware of current events and what is going on in the economy. This will give you something to talk about and even if it does not directly come up, you will have increased confidence and be more comfortable presenting yourself. Every morning, I read two newsletters in my email mailbox, the Morning Brew and theSkimm. The Morning Brew gives you a very comprehensive breakdown of the markets and business world while theSkimm focuses more on general current events. I highly recommend them both as these two newsletters have familiarized me with real world concepts that greatly helped me in interviews.
Hamilton has a long history of connecting students with alumni and parents whose advice, expertise, and resources help talented young people achieve success for themselves and in their communities.
Ultimately, networking is invaluable throughout our college years as a way to confirm our interests and pursue a career path. It will also remain invaluable throughout our entire careers; therefore, we are lucky to be gaining it as a skill set at Hamilton so early on. I spoke to a successful executive at Morgan Stanley who told me that she once met an individual when has was a senior in college and now, over five years later, he still emails her once a year to check in and maintain the relationship. Holding him in high standards, she still remembers his name and told me that she expects me to do the same. No matter what stage of our career paths, this advice displays the value behind networking and maintaining relationships.