What is networking?
Don’t think about networking as networking. Sometimes that word feels a little cheesy or disingenuous, but the process is more like making friends. Think about how you would feel if someone you didn’t know from your high school reached out to you and wanted to ask you some questions about your Penn experience. Chances are, you would be happy to share your insights! You can’t actually get them into Penn, but the conversation you have can help them better understand the application process and be a better candidate. Think about networking for consulting internships and jobs the same way. If you go into the process thinking, this will get me the job, then it starts to feel a little smarmy. But if you go into it thinking, I just want to learn more then you’ll be make genuine connections.
Okay sure, but I really do want to get the job and internship. How do I make that happen?
Yes, I know that this is ultimately the goal for many of you. If a current employee of a consulting firm thinks you would be a good fit, there is a lot of incentive for them to refer you internally. However, there isn’t a real way for you to ask for this in a not super awkward way. Therefore, you need to build the relationship over time aka making friends! Start by asking them questions about their experience, not just about the company. Showcase your skills and enthusiasm by following up, asking them to review your resume or do a mock case with you, and definitely let them know you’ve applied when that time comes. The key is to start now over the summer so you can build that relationship before fall recruiting starts.
How do I find people to reach out to?
Here are some great resources to get you started:
LinkedIn’s alumni tool. I think this is the easiest way to filter by school, location, company, industry etc. Then search on MyPenn to find their email addresses. Try to find people with similar backgrounds, extracurriculars or interests. I always say start with the Penn alumni network, but there isn’t anything saying you have to stick to that. CareerShift is a great resource for finding any contacts, Penn alum or not. Analysts who have graduated just a few years ago are great resources since they remember what it’s like to go through the process, and can have very helpful insights about case interviews.
What do I say when I do reach out?
Keep it tailored! Just like you would a cover letter, tailor your message to the person. It needs to feel specific to them and not a generic email you blasted to everyone in your network. Focus on them as a person, not the company. Attach your resume so they get to know a little bit about you, and make sure there is a call to action. Ask if they would be available to chat on the phone or in person, and that’s when the conversation can get more in-depth.
Schedule an appointment with an advisor to talk through your individual plan.