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Make the most out of your worldly endeavours

23rd May 2013

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Going on an internship? Volunteering for several months on another continent? Taking your studies overseas? Then read on! Here are a few first-hand tips for getting a return on your courageous efforts and landing yourself on employers’ radars.

Fortune favours the connected

Adapting the common saying, I believe that it's both what you know AND who you know.  A degree is important but it can only get you so far. You eventually might have to call upon key contacts to open doors. While at college in the US, I received a business card from an immigration attorney who was giving a talk. We chatted for some time and I took an active interest in the business he was in. He was kind enough to offer to represent me for free if I ever wanted to get a working visa in the US, a few years down the line. The time to pursue that opportunity hasn't arrived yet, but it's still handy to know that I have that option. 

Key Takeaways

  • Seek social interactions wherever and whenever possible.
  • Become a social magnet by making the other person feel important
  • Hold on to key contact details. You'll need them.
My Internship at the Olympics brought a similar opportunity. While at a corporate event representing my university, I stumbled across Alex Epstein, who was a contestant on The Apprentice. I had talked to him a year earlier in a coffee shop that I worked in and fortunately he remembered me. We exchanged business cards and kept in contact after the internship. This relationship eventually paid dividends when I graduated and began sending out speculative letters to advertising agencies in Leeds. I got in touch with Alex as I knew he'd dealt with such agencies before and he was able to give me key contact details for which to direct my application. The companies weren't recruiting at the time but the creative directors gave some inside tips on how to get into the business, such as creating a portfolio of work. 

Key Takeaways

  • Know that these networking opportunities can't always be planned. You just have to be receptive and ready to anticipate them 
  • Maintain relationships by keeping in contact and adding value however you can.

Showcase your experiences with a visual blog

Besides chasing an exciting adventure, one of my motivations for these endeavours was to become more attractive to employers. Keeping a record of your achievements and experiences is incredibly important for maximising your returns. I utilised the visually-led blog, Jux to showcase my experiences much more vividly than with a cover letter alone. Blogs can tap into your personality and creativity, adding a deeper level of communication to employers. 

While sending out speculative letters to marketing agencies, I added a link to my blog and highlighted this picture below of my college trip to New York. A receipt of purchase was required to have your picture above the American Eagle clothes store in Time Square. I cheekily bought a pack of chewing gum, asked for the receipt and got myself on one of the digital billboards. The caption reads "The world's leading brands will pay millions of dollars to get their images up in Times Square. All it took me was a packet of gum!" The employer appreciated the originality and it earned me an interview at a top marketing agency!

Key Takeaways

  • Keep a record of your experiences and achievements
  • Showcase your experiences on a blog to market yourself creatively
  • Express your personality to employers! They don't want to hire robots!
Going on these types of worldly endeavours creates a snowball effect. Once you embark on one opportunity, you set the ball rolling for others through being unique, courageous and standing out from the crowd. 

Written by Robert Jones on behalf of Vistaprint UK.

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