Monday, November 28, 2011

The Outlook Chronicles: Questions From Real Students

Alright, I've been busy. And yes, I may have neglected this blog just a tad. But I'm back, and I've found a way to incorporate some of the daily e-mail advice I give to the students I work with into this blog. So here's the set-up: without fail, I meet with students who, upon leaving my office, have a million more questions. Some of these questions they figure out on their own, some they e-mail to me for my two cents. Not surprisingly, I tend to see a lot of the same questions. So for those of you are asking yourselves those ground-breaking questions, like "should I text the hiring manager?," here are my answers to some frequently asked questions.

A student writes:

Hello Shimrit,

I hope that you had a very nice Thanksgiving. I have a couple of questions:

My informational interview is tomorrow. Do I need to bring a cover letter if I am going to hand him my resume in person? Also, what is the best time to hand him my business card (beginning of meeting or end)? Finally, should I bring a copy of the proposal for the startup I'm working on/with, in case he wishes to talk about it?

Thanks so much,


And I answer:

Dear Taylor,

I wouldn't worry about a cover letter just yet - since a cover letter implies you are applying for a job and this is an informational interview, which you've requested. An informational interview is an opportunity to ask for advice about a specific industry, and how to best pursue a job in it, but you should not ask for a job.  If you hand the person you're meeting with a cover letter, it may imply that you don't really get that this is an informational interview - or you're trying to pull one over him - neither of which are good things. For these same reasons, you should also be careful about handing him your resume. If you'd like him to take a look at your resume,  you might ask him if he'd be willing to provide some specific feedback on it, such as whether you're objective is appropriate - or even necessary. Despite these warning to tread lightly with your resume, you should certainly bring it - as well as the copy of your proposal.  He may ask for them, and they could be great conversation points depending on how the discussion flows.

As for business cards, they are typically exchanged towards the end of an encounter. You can conclude your meeting by asking him for his card, and if it would be okay for you contact him with any additional questions you might have. You can also hand him yours at that point.

Good luck tomorrow. I know you'll do great - it sounds like you are preparing in all the right ways.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Taking Time Off"

The other day a colleague of mine pointed out an interesting trend – students referring to the years between college and graduate school as “time off.” As my colleague astutely claimed, “it’s not called ‘time off,’ it’s called work!” As a member of this generation, it’s not altogether surprising to me that I failed to recognize this absurd characterization of “life-after-college” on my own, but that didn’t stop me from sharing her outrage over the use of this terminology.

For one thing, “taking time off” insinuates that work is a privilege, even a vacation of sorts. Trust me, it’s not (and this is coming from someone who really does love her job). Additionally, it suggests that not only is there a finite end to “work,” but assumes that graduate school is a given (again, it’s not). Have other noticed this trend? What do you think about students referring to post-graduate work as “taking time off?”