Networking encompasses a large variety of engagement with people in your life who could potentially be a source of professional guidance. It is never too early to begin building your professional network (typically managed via LinkedIn). However, a digital connection via LinkedIn is not the only way to engage and build your network.
Where & How to Network
Where to Network
- Career fairs, employer-hosted information sessions or events, campus or community professional organizations.
- In classes, connect with peers, faculty, and graduate students within your area of interest.
- Family members and family friends may be working in areas that interest you – reach out via email to have informational interviews and learn more about their careers.
- Search for GT alumni working at companies or in industries you are curious about – someone 1-5 years out of their academic program will have the best perspective (and likely, be more available than someone more senior).
Find a Mentor
- Actively seek out someone in your desired industry and ask if they’d be willing to mentor you (formally).
- There is no formula for a mentorship relationship but engage with them regularly to keep them posted on your activities and seek out their advice when making big decisions (academically or professionally).
- Note: Find and take advantage of programs like Mentor Jackets at Georgia Tech to get engaged.
Manage Your Network
The key to networking is MAINTAINING your network through communication. Utilize a spreadsheet to keep track of contacts (you can export your LinkedIn contacts to start) and keep track of any communications you have with members of your network.
Reach out to new connections to request informational interviews. Follow up with your contacts (example Email Templates) to stay in touch after an initial meeting. You can ask about things in their life/work and give them updates on your professional life (when you start looking for internships, any academic/research/job experiences that may be of interest to share, relevant news articles, etc). Keep these messages brief and focus on keeping lines of communication open for a time down the road when you may be interested in seeking them out for professional input (thoughts on your resume, advice on applying/interviewing in their industry, potential referral for positions in their company).
LinkedIn is a great tool for marketing yourself and building your network virtually. To make the best use of the platform, review the tips we’ve gathered to help you get started.
Make Your Profile Stand Out
- Customize your URL (and try not to change it later)
- Personalize with a good headshot and banner image:
- Solid background (see link below to remove background if needed), good lighting on your face, dressed for success, only you in the photo
- Personalize with a unique banner image of something that represents you or stands out
- Create a Headline to showcase specialty, value, skills
- Should include your major, career aspirations, skills, and when you will graduate
- Software Development Student // Aspiring Software Engineer //Java // PHP// Java Script // C++ // 2021 Graduate
- Strategy Consultant Intern @ ____ // Aspiring Management Consultant // Passionate About Solving Problems at Scale // BS Business Administration // December 2021 Graduate
- MS Computer Science Student // May 2021 Graduate // Software Engineering // Graduate Research Assistant // Java // Full Stack Developer // Data Analyst
- Create an “About” Statement
- Summary of one to two paragraphs similar to your Tell Me About Yourself response
- Talk about your APTITUDE, not just achievements
- Identify at least five skills and share them
- Reveal how you would like to use tools/strengths/skills
- Provide sample targeted industry or two
- Avoid overused words: Motivated-Creative-Enthusiastic-Track Record-Passionate-Driven-Leadership-Strategic-Problem Solver-Successful-Multitasker
- Fill in your experience
- List all paid work experience, similar to resume (or copy/paste directly), including 3-5 verb-driven bullets
How to Build Your LinkedIn Network
- Avoid browsing with your settings private
- Build out in expanding circles, current students in your major, recent major alumni, GT community, the business community
- Leverage GT Institutional Pages:
- Connect to students/alums in similar clubs, campus, or community organizations
- Reach out to contacts in your professional organizations and the business community in your target city
- Send a personalized message when requesting to connect
Georgia Tech Connect & Mentor Jackets
Georgia Tech Connect
Georgia Tech Connect is the Alumni Association’s connections platform. Whether you are a student looking for a mentor, or an alum looking to find other alumni in their city, Georgia Tech Connect is a platform for all Yellow Jackets. This platform is opt-in, so you know anyone you engage with is there because they are actively interested in networking with GT students and alumni.
Mentor Jackets is a 1:1 alumni-to-student mentoring program sponsored by the Georgia Tech Alumni Association and the Georgia Tech Student Alumni Association (SAA). The program connects alumni and current Georgia Tech students in mutually fulfilling mentoring relationships focused on academic, personal, and professional goals.
Who’s eligible to join as a Mentee?
- All current members of SAA (including graduate, international, and online students).
- You will gain a professional resource who will help to expand your knowledge and skills, give you valuable advice, and work to build and expand your professional network. Your mentor is an advocate who will encourage you to set and achieve goals, and can teach you about career options and possibilities.
What is required of me as a mentee?
- Connect with your mentor at least once a month (via video or message)
- Take initiative by scheduling meetings and arriving prepared. Show genuine interest, and ask questions.
- Complete the personal and professional goals assigned to you (and create your own!). Mark these as complete by the assigned due date.
- Demonstrate professionalism by being timely, open to feedback, expressing a willingness to learn, and following through on commitments.
Read more and register for the Mentor Jackets program.
Learn more about Mentor Jackets and other mentor programs.
An informational interview is a great opportunity to learn more about a career field of interest and to start building your network. Informational interviews are usually not planned around a specific job opening or opportunity. Rather, they are an opportunity to learn about an industry, its culture and to gain advice from someone who has worked in the field. This conversation may help you determine if the career is a good fit for you.
Keep in mind that informational interviews are designed to gather information, not to ask for a job. It is essential to prepare your questions in advance to maximize your time. Come with a notepad, pen, and your written-out questions to take notes on the answers you receive.
Advisors, family members, and faculty often tell students they should network. You may be thinking it is easier said than done and don’t know where to start. Here is some guidance on how to make the most of the opportunity when it comes to meeting with a professional for an informational interview:
- Identify individuals who are in the industry/organization you are interested in. Use tools like Georgia Tech’s LinkedIn alumni page to identify professionals. Do not overlook your personal network as well (family, friends, professors, community members, friends’ parents, etc.) Share with your network what you are considering pursuing to see if you can find leads.
- Be as ready as you would for a formal job interview. The worst thing you can do is to show up unprepared without a list of questions. This is your opportunity to impress and could lead to future opportunities or, at minimum, give you great information that can help you in your career down the road.
- Dress appropriately. Some work environments may be more formal in nature and require business professional attire. Some may require closed-toe shoes (healthcare) and others may be more casual in nature. Even if it is a casual work environment you will be visiting, dress up a little more than the average employee to create a strong first impression.
- Practice introducing yourself. Include your name, major, student involvement, previous experiences, and why you are interested in speaking with that person. If applicable, reflect on the types of skills/qualities desired in that industry or field, and be sure to include that in your introduction.
- Demonstrate your research by asking more specific questions. Take the time to Google that person and learn more about their organization. You can use the sample questions below, but if you want to stand out to the professional be sure to include more specific questions to demonstrate that you have prepared.
- I read on your website that you [engage in this type of work, these are your customers, major news item, etc.]. Can you tell me more about that and how it impacts your current position?
- Send a thank you note within 48 hours or less from your meeting. Include something specific about what you enjoyed from the conversation to show you were listening.
Requesting an Informational Interview
People who grant informational interviews are generally willing to share 20-30 minutes of their time to explain their expertise in their field. Please remember to be flexible in your scheduling, as these volunteers likely already have prior commitments and may not have much time to give you. If your prospective interviewee seems too busy to talk to you, ask for a convenient time when you could follow up and schedule a time to talk in person, on the phone, or by a video call. Below is a sample informational interview request via email.
To: Jessica Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From: Antwon Washington (email@example.com)
Subject: Informational Interview Request from Georgia Tech Student
Dear Ms. Smith,
I saw on LinkedIn that you are a Georgia Tech alumna and have a background in medicine. I am currently a GT student and am in the process of researching career paths I can pursue with a Biology major. Would you be willing to speak with me briefly over the phone (15-20 minutes) to share with me your insight on what it is truly like to work as a Physician Assistant? I was interested in hearing any advice you had on how I can make myself more competitive for this career path while I am still currently enrolled.
I am regularly open during the following blocks of time:
- Tues/Thurs after 2:00pm EST
- Fridays all day
- Tues/Wed/Thurs evenings
I would greatly appreciate your time and thank you for considering this request. I look forward to hearing from you.
Georgia Institute of Technology | Biology Major | May 2023
President, GT American Medical Student Association
firstname.lastname@example.org | 404-555-8382
- How would you describe a typical day in _____ role?
- What are some common tasks and daily activities?
- What jobs and experiences led you into your current role?
- What are some pros and cons to going into the ____ field?
- Could you please share your favorite projects, accomplishments or other things you have worked on?
- What does the typical work schedule look like? Is it a 9am – 5pm or do you work nights and weekends as well?
- Would you recommend I take any specific courses or training to better prepare myself for this field?
- How did you get started?
- What do you like most about your job? Least about your job?
- What do you find most challenging?
- What were the keys to your career advancement?
- How do people find out about open positions in this field?
- How would you describe the culture of your organization?
- Does your work relate to any experiences or studies you had in college?
- What are some future trends you see in the field?
- Do you have any advice on what I should be doing now to make myself more competitive for future positions in this area?
- Do you have any recommendations of who else may be willing to connect with me so that I may continue to learn more about this field?