A Sip in the Right Direction: Coffee n’ Careers

As college students, we are all trying to get our foot in the door and “stand out”. You’ve filled your resume top to bottom with impressive internships, the charity you founded, the six clubs you’re president of, and of course your stellar GPA from the best school ever…but hasn’t everyone?

It may feel that way. Truth is, no matter what your qualifications and experiences have been, we’re all in the same boat hoping to end up with a successful and meaningful career.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking “I don’t even know what I want to do with my life”, “I’ve switched my major three times”, or “I haven’t landed an internship yet that has made me excited to graduate”.

Whether you’re trying to stand out or still just trying to figure it out, I have the answer: Coffee.

Taking someone out to coffee, whether a coworker at your internship, a Tulane alum in your field, or your mom’s friend’s cousin whose job sounds really cool, taking the time to show someone you care to hear about their life and any words of wisdom they have (in person!) will undoubtedly make you memorable. And whether you walk away excited or uninterested, you’ve learned something new and gotten yourself one step closer to where you want to be.

Here are some tips for initiating a coffee meeting outside the work environment:

Send that e-mail!

What do you say?

  • Address them professionally (“Dear, ___”)
  • Let them know who you are briefly. They are busy and just need the highlights; you can describe yourself more when you meet.
  • Ask them to grab a quick coffee at a time most convenient for them.
  • Thank them for their time.
  • Be genuine and honest. Add something personal so they already feel they know you before you grab your coffee.

Landed the Job? How to Grab Coffee At Your Internship:  

This summer, I had the privilege of working in New York City at a large nonprofit. Before I started, my dad gave me one piece of advice: take out as many people to coffee as possible.

I thought it sounded like a nice idea, but as soon as a week passed in the office, I had three thoughts: 1) Everybody’s really busy and I don’t want to be bothersome by interrupting their day. 2) I don’t know everyone in the office – how do I approach someone that doesn’t know me to get coffee? 3) What are we going to talk about?

So for my first month, I was too nervous to take anyone out and that still stands as my biggest regret.

Sure, everyone is busy, but you will be shocked how willing people are to make time in their day to help someone younger navigate the industry. The conversations I ended up having with fellow staff were some of the most valuable learning experiences and helped me not only make connections around the office, but narrow down my interests for the future.

What do you talk about?

Ok, they said yes! What are you going to ask them?

Below are some questions to help you prepare and keep the conversation flowing.

I like to start broad with people, especially if I don’t know much about them beforehand. Ask them:

  1. How did you end up at this company?
  2. Did it relate to what you studied in college?

Now ask them more about their current role:

  1. What does a typical day look like for you?
  2. What’s your favorite/least favorite part about your job?
  3. What would be the biggest advice you’d give to someone trying to enter this field?
  4. What does the future of this company look like?

Always end these meetings by asking for a list of other contacts that you can reach out to. If you know what it is you want to do with your life, the more people you know in this field, the better.

If you’re looking to get coffee with someone in New Orleans, check out this list of the best coffee shops! Oh, and if you don’t like coffee… time to start!

Have any more questions? Comment below!

 

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