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organising work experience and making new contacts


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Hi,

 

I recently graduated from university but I am still a shy, anxious individual so I'm scared of trying to organise work placements by myself. I have an art degree, so work experience placements were not formally organised by the uni (our tutor in our final year said he would try and sort a couple out for us, I kept asking him if he was making any progress, but in the end it fizzled out).

 

I read everytime that the key is to send out speculative applications and make contacts, but how do you even do that in the first place? Most of the studios in my area that I can easily travel to are quite small companies so don't have specific recruitment pages on their website, just a contact number, how do I approach making that call? Am I just finding out the right person to send my CV to, or should it be a long conversation finding out what entry positions they might have and can I speak to the appropriate person there and then? (The latter is what has been putting me off making the call for so long).

 

My tutor did give me some names in the industry that I could contact to ask questions about their careers, however they are in the producing side rather than the creative side which wasn't really a career path I'd thought about before. What is the most appropriate way to contact professionals like this? I know they have profiles on Linkedin, I could send them a message that way?

 

Any insight would be much appreciated

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Don't do LinkedIn or anything electronic. That's perceived as a very informal way to contact someone for the first time. You can utilize the information that you find on their websites or LinkedIn in planning an in-person informational interview.

 

The best thing to do would be to call the contacts from your professor first. Tell them that you recently graduated with a degree in Art from XYZ University, and that Professor XYZ referred you to them. Tell them you're very interested in their company and in the profession and that you'd love to schedule an informational interview with them. Many people, unless they're terribly busy, will make time to do a brief interview like this with a college student or recent graduate.

 

Once you get an interview, focus on them and what you'd like to learn about them and your company, not getting a position there. Ask them about how they got to where they are and their career path; ask them about how their company differs from others, etc. Do your research on the company website. At the end of the interview, you can ask if they have any open positions, but don't go in with the idea that this is a job interview. Go in with the idea that you're gathering information, and even if you don't get a job out of it, it's good to know.

 

Then continue to check in with them every few months to maintain the relationship, and if you do see a job listing for their company elsewhere, send in your CV and be sure to refer to your contact at the company in your cover letter.

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Also search out all in the country, and send out letters asking if they are in need of an intern. Lots of places will take you in - for free - if you can manage to cover your living expenses for a few months. That way you've got real experience under your belt.

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How many contacts can a recent graduate have?

 

Speaking as someone from the other side of the age group, if I were to receive letters from graduates looking for an entry into the industry, I would be impressed. No doubt many other Baby Boomers would, too. Humility goes a long way.

 

Besides, I'm talking about internships, which are typically unpaid. I doubt many business owners would be turned off at the offer of free help.

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How many contacts can a recent graduate have?

 

Speaking as someone from the other side of the age group, if I were to receive letters from graduates looking for an entry into the industry, I would be impressed. No doubt many other Baby Boomers would, too. Humility goes a long way.

 

Besides, I'm talking about internships, which are typically unpaid. I doubt many business owners would be turned off at the offer of free help.

 

I guess it depends a lot on the field. I work in nonprofit arts, and internships are very competitive and structured (and always unpaid). Just sending in a letter can be looked upon unfavorably because there is typically more protocol to getting an internship than just sending a cold letter.

 

If she doesn't have many contacts, she should concentrate on researching some companies she would be interested in interning with, learn about them, perhaps do an informational interview, and then inquire about/apply for internships.

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Hermes, that site looks interesting, now bookmarked to plough through later!

 

Yep I'm going to concentrate on the names I've been given first and build from there, although I'm sometimes tempted to go down the mass paper/email route. I have heard of other instances where writing direct can get someone's interest (I was even told that a hand-written cover letter can get someone's attention, but then to me it doesn't seem very professional) but I think in this case introducing myself over the phone or face to face is the best way to go.

 

Thank you everyone for your swift replies!

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