Read What Color Is Your Parachute? Online

Authors: Carol Christen,Jean M. Blomquist,Richard N. Bolles

Tags: #Juvenile Nonfiction, #Business & Economics, #Careers, #School & Education, #Non-Fiction

What Color Is Your Parachute? (30 page)

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Outside your job, what are your other interests or hobbies?

Number one is cooking dinner for my amazing husband—we’ve been together for ten years, married for three. Yoga, running, novels, movies, spiritual Jewish practice, creative activities with friends, and dancing are all things I might be doing on a good weekend.

Did you have an internship in school? If yes, was it helpful to your employment?

Absolutely. I did my first internship when I was fifteen at a small, free arts magazine in New Orleans, my hometown. I continued breaking into the business through internships in college at
magazine, and finally the
Village Voice
, which became my first real professional home.

What advice would you give a young adult who wants to work in your field?

Be extremely flexible and adaptable because this field is changing fast and no one can tell you exactly what path to follow. Skip grad school. Embrace technology—we can’t afford to be humanities snobs. If you’re in the media you have to love new media, so find your inner geek.

NOTE: You can find Anya’s articles at
or read her tweets at Twitter: @ANYA1ANYA.

Never underestimate the value of thanking someone for taking time to meet with you. (To review the basics of writing
thank-you notes, see
Writing a Thank You Note

When you ask the same questions in each interview, you get very different information, and seeing these differences can be very helpful. Notice that the interview questions in this chapter include the ones from
chapter 4
, but go into more depth and will help you get a better idea of whether or not a job is a good fit for you. Asking these questions takes about a half hour. Make an appointment with your interviewees for thirty minutes. You may want to send them your list of questions ahead of time so they can think about their possible answers. You can ask additional questions, but keep to your time schedule. If you get to the end of a half hour and still have a couple of questions, ask your interviewee for five or ten more minutes so you can get through your list. After you’ve done five information interviews for each of the jobs that interest you, you’ll be ready for step 2.

Step 2: Cultivate Contacts and Create Networks

The people you meet through information interviewing become contacts and part of your career network. You have a personal network—friends, family, and other people you know—and a professional or work network—people whose work is the same as or similar to what you’re interested in doing. Both networks can be helpful in your job search. Keep in touch with your contacts. Send them an update about your life or career at least once a year. Show interest in their lives as well. If you haven’t talked with someone for years and suddenly get in touch for help with your job search, they’ll feel used—although if they really like you, they may help you anyway. Just as preventative maintenance keeps your car running well, treating your contacts well keeps your networks healthy.

Here’s an example of how contacts and networks work. One of your parents’ friends (personal network) suggests that you talk to a local banker—not because you want to be a banker, but because bankers know a great deal about various businesses in your area. You have a good conversation with the banker, learn what you want to know (and perhaps a great deal more), and send her a thank-you note after the information interview. Some time later, you want to talk with someone in the construction industry because you’re interested in
becoming a commercial building contractor. A natural place to start would be with this banker, who is now a contact of yours (professional network). If she doesn’t personally know a building contractor with whom you can talk, she’s likely to know someone who can make that connection for you.

Contacts become your extra eyes and ears. They may hear about job openings before they become public and alert you to those opportunities. They can help you with specific information you may need—for example, when you want to do an information interview and can’t find someone who does exactly the type of work you’re looking for. Later, when there’s a job you’re particularly interested in, they could help you learn the name of the hiring manager or get an appointment with that person. Or, if the job is at the same place where your contact works, he or she may be willing to introduce you to the hiring manager or act as a reference for you. Because employers highly regard the recommendations of their colleagues and employees as to whom they should hire, creating a network of people who do what you want to do more than repays your investment of time and effort.

It’s important to keep the contact information of people you meet—names, phone numbers, and addresses (both email and snail mail)—so that you can contact them in the future. Keep this information in your career portfolio (see
chapter 5

You can also get names of people to contact from

• Teachers, relatives, former bosses, and coworkers
• People with whom you’ve had information interviews
• Members of community service organizations (such as the Lions Club, Kiwanis, Rotary, Soroptimists, Association of University Women, and Boys and Girls Clubs)
• Printed material: the business section of your daily paper or its archives, a company website, Internet research, annual reports or public relations articles compiled by companies themselves
• People you’ve met through temporary or volunteer work
• Your social networking contacts (by sending out a request through a social networking site or a Twitter post)

We’ll return to your contacts and networks a little bit later in this chapter when we look at how to begin your campaign to get hired for a particular job (see
Begin Your Campaign to Get the Job You Want

Step 3: Research Organizations of Interest

Now that you’ve done your information interviews and prioritized your job targets (step 1), and started cultivating
contacts and creating networks (step 2), it’s time to find out exactly which organizations hire people to do the job you want to do. Often you can do the same work in several different organizations or businesses. Your information interviews, along with other research, will help you select the places you most want to work.

Building on your information interviews, you will now research more thoroughly the organizations that are likely to offer the job you want. In addition to doing a general Internet search, you can research an organization in many ways; for example:

• Look through the archives of newspapers or periodicals and find written information on the organizations.
• Visit company websites and websites for that field or industry.
• Talk to people who work for (or used to work for) organizations you’re interested in. Also, talk with competitors (if this is a business) or people at similar agencies (if this is, for example, a nonprofit agency).
• Talk to the suppliers or customers of a business or a particular department of a corporation.
• Ask for information from business leaders in your community, the local chamber of commerce or private industry council, or the state employment office.
You probably have more contacts than you realize. Here are a few:
• Family—immediate and extended
• Friends and parents of friends
• Everyone you’ve friended on Facebook or similar sites
• Neighbors
• Coworkers and employers (past and present)
• School guidance counselors or club sponsors
• Teachers or professors
• Your pastor, rabbi, mullah, youth group leader, or other members of your spiritual community
• People you meet in line at the movies, grocery store, or on vacation
• Mentors or people you’ve job-shadowed
• Supervisors of your volunteer work or school projects

When you contact people who work for an organization, or used to work for it, you’ll want to get answers to the following questions (some of which are difficult to ask directly, so be tactful):

• What kind of work do they do there?
• What kind of goals are they trying to achieve? Are they achieving their goals? (Many organizations have mission statements. Find out which of the organizations that interest you do, and read them.)
• What are their needs, problems, and challenges?
• What obstacles are they running into?
• What kind of reputation does the company have within their industry?
• How do they treat their employees?

Also try to find out how your skills and knowledge can help organizations at which you want to work. People you interview can give you suggestions. When you eventually have hiring interviews, you want to be able to show that you have something to offer—something that they need.

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