Guest Post by Megan Gentille (Assistant Director, DePaul University Internship Program). Here, Megan Gentille describes how she networked her way toward landing her dream job.
Discovering a passion
Graduating from Miami University with a bachelor’s in Psychology, I moved to Chicago seeking opportunity. I began my career as a receptionist at a mid-sized staffing firm in the Loop and worked my way up to a PR and Marketing Communications role. During my five-year tenure with the organization, I started a job-readiness workshop program for recent graduates and professionals. Through facilitating this program, I learned I truly loved helping others navigate the job search process. With this newfound passion, I began searching for full-time opportunities that would allow me to advise students and recent graduates on career-related issues. I focused my search on the higher education industry, specifically, DePaul University.
It started with one contact…
I had virtually no contacts in higher education, but did know one former co-worker who was currently employed in DePaul’s Career Center. I reached out to her for an informational interview to learn more about her role at DePaul and the industry as a whole. She was gracious enough to oblige my request and at the end of our time together, I asked her if there was anyone else to whom I should speak. She provided two to three names, and my informational interviews continued. After each phone call or meeting, I asked for referrals to other higher education folks. When all was said and done, I had spoken to approximately 25 different professionals from various universities and colleges around Chicago.
As a complete outsider to higher education, conducting informational interviews was a truly invaluable resource for me. With each conversation I gathered more insight into the field and into potential employment opportunities, and I was amazed by people’s willingness to volunteer their time and expertise. I didn’t enter these conversations looking for a job but simply to gather information.
After several months of conducting informational interviews, I received an email encouraging me to apply to an opening within the Career Center. To make a long story short(er), I landed the interview and was offered a position with the University Internship Program. I was thrilled!
Put yourself out there
The best tip I can offer to someone who would like to start networking is simply to put yourself out there and ask questions. Be persistent and remain open to speaking with anyone and everyone. Not only will you become more informed, but you will meet all kinds of interesting people! Before each informational interview, be sure to research the person to whom you’re speaking and come prepared with questions. And then, just enjoy the conversation.
Be open to learning
Networking can be frustrating and tiring at times, especially when you’re actively job searching. Approach each conversation as an opportunity to learn something new. With that attitude, amazing things can happen!
– Megan Gentille, Assistant Director, University Internship Program