Networking is an important career development skill that is worth developing. In its simplest form, networking is about developing professional and social contacts, which would be helpful for someone who is exploring careers or searching for job.
Networking can help you to:
Explore careers and jobs - Talk to professionals in an informational interview, through which you can gather information about a job, career field, industry, or workplace so you can determine its "fit" for you.
Find a job - When you are actively looking for jobs, use networking to market yourself. By talking to people about your qualifications, as well as your positions and employers of interest, you may hear of job leads and other resources that you wouldn't find elsewhere.
5 great ways to network
1/ Your network is around you
You don't have to look further. Your family, friends, teachers and seniors make up your network. As your Principal always says, make 200 friends. One day. this network that you made may come in useful when you need to find opportunities!
Don't just talk to your teacher and friends about academics or CCA. Broach the subject of careers and university degrees and you may uncover new information that you never knew.
2/ Set up a Linkedin account
Linkedin is the largest networking platform in the world. Find out more here.
3/ Approach an adult / senior for an informational interview
Seniors who are currently in university are a trove of information. They know what the culture in the university is like, who are the best professors, where is the best food and more. And best of all, they will be happy to share all these information with you, only if you would open your mouth and ask them.
Career personnel are also some of the best people to give you accurate information on what the industry is like. We understand that it is not easy to reach out to strange adults. Do start with adults that you are familiar with eg. family, internship supervisor, coach etc
Find out more about informational interviews here.
Through volunteering, you will get to meet like-minded people from different industries. Take the time to talk to them and you may find opportunities that you never knew existed.
Internships are the best way to meet and talk to a career professional in the field that you are interested in. If you do well in the internship, you may even land a permanent job in the company. Even if that doesn't happen, if you maintain contact with the people you met through the internship, one day the effort will pay off.
Benefits of Informational Interviews
An informational interview is an informal conversation you can have with someone working in an area of interest to you. You may feel awkward reaching out to people you don't know. However, most people actually enjoy taking a few moments out of their day to reflect on their professional life and give advice to someone with an interest in their field.
Get first-hand information about the realities of the university course / industry
Often, certain information will not be readily online e.g. how heavy the coursework is, what it is like to study in this university etc. Only your seniors who are already in the course will be able to give you a reality check so that you know exactly what you are applying for.
Discover opportunities you did not know of
If you don't know it existed, you probably can't google it. However, a senior in university could give you additional information of certain programmes and opportunities that you never knew existed
Hone your communication skills
In reaching out to people and initiating conversation that may seem awkward at first will help you hone the art of starting a conversation.
How to conduct an informational interview
1/ Do your research
Google the university course / career that you are interested in. Having a basic understanding of the course or related career is fundamental. It does not reflect well on you if you were to ask questions that are too basic and the answers can be easily googled.
2/ Identify people to interview
They could be family, friends or teachers around you.
They could also be your internship supervisor, your coach or your community work supervisor.
Alternatively you could reach out to NYJC's EDlumni network
3/ Prepare for the interview
Prepare a short introduction of yourself
Prepare the list of questions to ask. See some suggested questions below:
4/ Initiate contact
Contact the person by email or phone.
Mention how you got his or her name.
Ask whether it’s a good time to talk for a few minutes.
Ask for a convenient time to have a 20-30 minute appointment.
Be ready to ask questions on the spot if the person says it is a good time for him/her and that s/he won’t be readily available otherwise.
"Hello. My name is Lee Xiao Long and I'm your junior in NYJC. I saw your profile on NYJC ECG Portal and learnt that you are currently in NUS studying Computer Science. I am very interested in furthering my studies in IT and would like to learn more about the field. Would it be possible to schedule 20 to 30 minutes with you at your convenience to ask a few questions and get your advice on how best to prepare to enter the course?"
5/ Conduct the interview
Dress neatly and appropriately, as you would for a job interview.
Arrive on time or a few minutes early.
Bring your list of questions and take notes if you like.
Restate that your objective is to get information and advice, not a job.
Give a brief overview of yourself and your education and/or work background.
Be prepared to direct the interview, but also let the conversation flow naturally, and encourage the interviewee to do most of the talking.
Respect the person's time. Limit the meeting to the agreed-upon timeframe.
Ask the person if you may contact them again in the future with other questions.
Ask for names of other people to meet so as to gain different perspectives.
6/ Follow up
Keep records. Write down what you learned, what more you'd like to know, and what your next steps should be.
Send a thank-you note within 1-2 days to express your appreciation for the time and information given. Based on whether the informational interview was relatively informal or more businesslike, this may be a brief handwritten note, an email, or a business letter.
Keep in touch with the person, especially if you had a particularly nice interaction; let them know that you followed up on their advice and the outcome. This person could become an important part of your network.
Get inspired with our informational interviews videos
Learn how an alumni of NYJC set up the biggest personal finance website in Singapore before the age of 30.
Kenneth Lou, alumni of NYJC, graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School with a finance and Technopreneurship background.
Kenneth believes in helping others make smarter financial decisions through Seedly (Seedly.sg), a one stop platform to help millennials and young adults manage and learn about personal finances together.
He gives back to the start-up world by mentoring younger start-up entrepreneurs from tertiary institutions and is also a contributor on several tech publications. He is also the Winner of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 nominated by the Small and Medium Business Association (SMBA).
Find out how an award-winning poet
juggles his passion with a full-time job
Theophilus Kwek is a writer, editor and researcher who is interested in a wide range of social and policy issues. He has published five volumes of poetry, two of which were shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and serves as Co-Editor of the UK-based magazine, Oxford Poetry. He has also won awards for his essays and translations. His published academic work, which has been presented at conferences in Singapore and abroad, looks at questions of race, migration, and citizenship. He loves good coffee and long walks, and now works in the healthcare sector.
How did an NYJC alumni transit from being a History major to a Human Resource executive? Watch to learn more.
Michelle leads the HR (Regional Special Projects) team in Shopee and implements HR projects locally and regionally. She has experienced and delved into almost every HR function from engagement, employer branding, recruitment and performance management. Michelle leads several key projects such as building up campus recruitment initiatives, launching the Global Leaders Program, a management associate program to 6 local markets, revamping the performance appraisal system for Shopee and AirPay and organising large-scale tech events to brand Shopee as a tech employer of choice.
Learn about the realities of app development from an A.I. entrepreneur
Limonium Sua is the Partnership Development Lead at Vouch SG Pte Ltd, a Singaporean startup that creates app-less A.I.-powered digital concierges that help hotels elevate their guest experience and improve productivity. Their solution is currently deployed at hotels such as Andaz Singapore, Pan Pacific Singapore, and the Capri by Fraser brand of hotels in Singapore. In 2019, Vouch was awarded "Best Business Innovation" at the Singapore Tourism Award, and was selected by Facebook for its inaugural "Startup Station" accelerator programme.
Find out more about entering architecture in SUTD from Jo Wee
Jo Wee, an NYJC alumni, is currently studying architecture in SUTD. Find out why she chose SUTD Architecture over NUS Architecture in the interview.
Find out more about studying in the US from CAAS scholar, Shing Yi
Shing Yi, an NYJC alumni, studied in Georgia Institute of Technology under the CAAS Scholarship. Find out more about studying in US from him!
Find out more about NUS scholarships and the process of entering Yale-NUS from Michelle
Michelle, an NYJC alumni, applied for both Yale-NUS and NUS FASS. Currently, she has accepted the offer for NUS Merit Scholarship. Find out why she chose NUS over Yale-NUS!