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Networking & LinkedIn


Over 70% of jobs people find are through networking!  There’s definitely some truth to the popular saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  And perhaps more importantly, it’s not who you know, but who knows you.  You have to become known by people in your field not just to get your foot in the door at one company, but to keep progressing in your career.  Arguably, this is one of the most important tasks to perform during and after graduation.

  • The elevator pitch is your opportunity to catch the listeners attention in 30 seconds. This phrase came from the idea that you could be in the elevator with the hiring manager for your dream job. What would you say? Use the tips below to create an engaging elevator pitch which will be sure to spark conversation.

    • Pitch components:
      • Who are you? Name, current job (if applicable), degree seeking at CSP
      • What are your goals/values/vision as they relate to your current or desired field?
      • What you are interested in as it relates to your career goal(s)? A new job, career growth, research, etc and why
    • Examples:
      • (Entry Level) “I am graduating in May with a degree in ____. While in college I worked 20 hours per week
        while going to school full-time. I am active in ____ organization and have worked as a ____ for the past two years
        where I developed strong communication skills assisting hundreds of customers.
      • (Experienced) “I recently graduated from Concordia University, St. Paul with a degree in ____.  For the past 10 years, I have worked in the ____ industry as a ____, _____, and _____.  Some of my key contributions and accomplishments have been ____.  Through these experiences, I have developed ____ skills.  I am looking to transition to ____.  What can I do to make that happen?”
  • An informational interview or meeting is a great way learn more about a desired career field and grow your network. If you are unfamiliar, an informational interview is when you reach out to someone that can provide you information, primarily for the reason of obtaining information in the area of a career field or organization.

    The main difference between a formal interview and informational interview is 1. you are not asking for a job and 2. you lead initiate the conversation and take lead.

    Steps to Conduct an Informational Interview

    1. Identify who You Want to Talk to
      • Contrary to what you may think, top level managers are not necessarily the best sources of information to contact early in your process.  Individuals who hold positions similar to the one’s you plan to seek are your best contacts early in the process.
    2. Reach Out
      • Begin by assessing your own personal network of family, friends, and co-workers.  Ask each person you know for possible contacts in your field(s) of choice. You may also use LinkedIn’s alumni search feature. A personal referral is the ideal referral, but cold calls to individuals you may have read or heard about can also be effective.
    3. Prepare
      • Have your informational interview questions prepared ahead of time.  Research as much as you can about the company/organization for which the interviewee works.
    4. Treat the Informational Interview as a Professional Point of Contact
      • Dress professionally, arrive early, and send a thank you note (as soon as possible after the interview). 

    Example Outreach Text

    • I am a student at Concordia University, St. Paul majoring in biology, in hopes of pursuing a career in medicine. I was given your contact information from my faculty member, Dr. Jones. I am writing to ask if you would be willing to meet briefly with me to discuss your career path and the steps that you recommend for someone interested in becoming a physician’s assistant. I was hoping to schedule a brief, 30 minute meeting, in the next month. If it is easier, I’m happy to call your office to find a convenient time to meet. Thank you and I hope to have the opportunity to speak with you.

    Questions to Ask

    • Position/Career Path
      • What is a typical work day like for you?
      • What is your position/title? What are your responsibilities?
      • Why does this field of work interest you and how did you get started?
      • How did you get your job? What experiences have led you to this career/occupation?
      • What skills are most important in doing this job well? What personal traits are needed?
      • What does the company do to contribute to the employees’ overall professional development?
      • What interests you least about your current job? What causes the most stress for you on the job?
      • How would you describe the working conditions/climate?
      • How did your college experience prepare you for this job? (only if relevant)
      • What kinds of experience (paid or unpaid) would you suggest for someone wanting to enter this career field?
    • Organization/Industry
      • What sorts of changes are occurring in this profession or within your company/organization?
      • What is the average length of time for an employee to stay in the job you hold? Are there incentives or disincentives for staying in the same job?
      • Is there flexibility related to dress, work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, etc.?
      • What are the new trends or issues in this industry?
      • Can you suggest some publications I might read? What professional associations do people in this field belong?
      • Are there certain types of employees who are more successful than others in this profession?
    • Next Steps
      • Can you think of anything else I should know about this field?
      • Could you suggest one or two other people I might contact for further information?
      • Would you mind if I called you again if I think of any other questions?
      • Don’t forget the business card. Add this to your business card file!
      • Would you mind reviewing my resume and making any suggestions?
  • Professional associations are a great resource as you grow in your career. By definition, a professional association is a body of persons engaged in the same profession, formed usually to control entry into the profession, maintain standards, and represent the profession in discussions with other bodies. An example of a professional association for those in the field or studying human resource management would be the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) which has both a national and local chapter.

    To find a professional association relevant to your career path, ask colleagues, mentors, and faculty members which they recommend. If they aren’t sure, conduct an internet search, such as “(career field) professional association (state)”. So you might do an internet search for “accounting professional association in Minnesota” to find the Minnesota Association of Public Accountants: MAPA or the Minnesota Society of CPA’s.

    When joining an association you want to do your research to see what you will get out of the membership. A few things to look for are: annual conference, mentor program, job board, online resources, and scheduled meetup opportunities. Many associations will also have a cost associated. If you are a current student, check to see if there is a student rate, which will be less than the regular member cost.

    Common Professional Associations by Industry

    • Accounting & Finance
      • The American Finance Association (AFA)
      • American Society of Women Accountants (ASWA)
      • Association for Financial Professionals, Inc. (AFP)
    • Marketing
      • American Marketing Association (AMA)
      • The National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP)
      • Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
    • Human Resources
      • The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP)
      • National Human Resources Association (NHRA)
      • The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
    • Healthcare Management
      • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM)
      • The Professional Association of Health Care Office Management


LinkedIn is a professional networking site you can use both during a job and internship search and to stay connected with colleagues, classmates, professors, and more.  LinkedIn has more than 225 million users in over 200 counties and is the most important online networking tool for both job seekers and recruiters.  Your LinkedIn profile is similar to your resume, however, there is no page limit and can include portfolio type items.

A common question is, “will being on LinkedIn get me a job?” The answer is… maybe?! If you create a profile and let it sit there, a recruiter may come across your profile. To make the most of LinkedIn you want to join groups, follow thought leaders, research employers, and identify those in your desired career field who you can connect with for informational interviews.

    • Include a professional picture
      • Put on a nice top and have a friend or family member snap a nice photo!
    • Create a strong headline that will attract viewers
    • Include a strong “About” section
      • This gives the reader and overview of who you are and what you offer
    • Add your work experience
      • Start with your most recent first and work backwards
      • Include strong skill statements that describe what you did in the positions
      • Avoid positions from high school that are no longer relevant to your career
    • Include your education
      • Search for your institutions and list your full degree (ie, Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing)
      • CSP will be listed as Concordia University, St. Paul
    • Follow groups, thought leaders, and employers
  • To access CSP alumni via LinkedIn (this only includes alumni on LinkedIn):
    • In the top search bar, search for Concordia University, St. Paul (school, not group)
    • In the left navigation bar, click “alumni”
    • Search through the 17,000+ CSP alumni on LinkedIn based on their graduation year, where the live, where they work and what they studied