Need a bit of help phrasing an email.
March 18, 2013 4:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm a student who's been hunting around for internships lately and someone close to me (who works in an industry with some overlap to my area of study) has very kindly helped me out by asking around in his network of contacts. Almost universally the response he/we have gotten have been along the lines of "hmm yeah, we don't have any specific openings right now but send us your resume and we'll take a look at it!". I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what sort of email I should send.

I know that chances are these emails probably aren't going to lead to any "omg! big opportunities!" but I'd still like to make a good impression and also find out more about the work that they do/the paths they took to get there. I don't have a ton of relevant experience (student, remember) but I have worked on one particular project outside of school which my person advised me to mention/play up in the email, as a lot of people find it unusual/interesting. I'm fairly new at this whole networking-thing and have a tendency to agonize for hours over sending emails to people I don't know, so I'm wondering if y'all have any suggestions/advice on how to keep things short and sweet, while still conveying the necessary information.
posted by btfreek to Work & Money (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Google for "informational interview request examples." That should help you figure out how you want to word your emails. Of course, include your friend's name as a reminder of why you're emailing them in the first place.
posted by erst at 4:56 PM on March 18, 2013

This is an opportunity to deploy your elevator speech in letter form.

After an intro paragraph referring to your shared connection, give them four to six sentences that encapsulate what you've done, what you're good at, what you're looking for, and why you're interested in that company.

Close by asking them if they'd let you buy them a cup of coffee or chat by phone for 15 minutes so you can learn more about their field and the company.
posted by ottereroticist at 4:57 PM on March 18, 2013

I'd write something like

Hi [So and So],

I am a student at [ABC University] majoring in [XYZ]. I am hoping to get into the [Whatever industry] and [So and So] suggested that I reach out to you. In my spare time, I worked on a project doing [Blablabla]. I'd love to learn more about [Whatever it is that you do] and the career path that you took.

Would you be open to a quick phone chat or meeting for a coffee?


Obviously could use some polish but you get the gist. I'd try to keep it short and sweet and not go on too much about myself. I think in general if you play up the "student eager to learn" role, most people will respond pretty positively.
posted by pravit at 5:09 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree that the informational interview route seems like the way to go. This comment by Wolfster is a good description of how to go about that and what you might get out of it.
posted by grapesaresour at 7:00 PM on March 18, 2013

pravit has pretty much got it covered.

However, the extra polish/oomph would be to figure out exactly what potential interviewer does (say, something day-to-day), and tell them why you are interested in learning more about that. Demonstrate that you've at least spent some effort to figure out why you want to have a conversation with that specific person other than "you're kinda in the field I think that I might want to get into."

There are probably field-specific etiquette/advice. What's your major and which field are you interested in breaking into?
posted by porpoise at 7:20 PM on March 18, 2013

Ah, I wasn't aware until now that informational interviews are a thing -- should've figured that there's already a term for what I'm trying to describe. Thanks for the help everyone!

and now, to buck up and get over my fear of talking to new people..
posted by btfreek at 4:04 PM on March 19, 2013

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