Monday, July 14, 2008

Internships: Using Twitter to Research Internship Possibilities

Internships to follow a passion or to check out possible career paths are a big part of the FLIPPING BURGERS philosophy. I’ve always advised researching possibilities by brainstorming with friends, family and mentors and by talking to people you know and people who know people you know.

Now I’ve been giving some thought as to how to utilize social media networks to research possible internships. Below is an example using the free microblogging site

Let’s suppose someone who we’ll call Laura wants an internship with an internet marketing company. And she knows the name of one company in her hometown that offer internet marketing services. (She knows this because she’s been keeping notes on companies she runs across that might be of interest to her.)

Laura is already registered on Twitter. First she goes to (an application for Twitter) and puts in the words internet marketing. Up pop tweets (the 140 character messages on Twitter) that mention these two words.

Laura reads the tweets and clicks through to the blog posts whose URLs are in the tweets. This is background information to help her learn more about internet marketing.

Then she goes directly to Twitter and searches on the words internet marketing. Up pop profiles of people on Twitter whose bio or other profile info mentions internet marketing. Laura reads these profiles and chooses some to follow on Twitter.

And then she searches on the name of the president of the internet marketing company in her hometown and comes up with nothing. Next she searches on the company name. And, hooray, she has struck gold! A profile pops up identifying the profiled person as a vice president at the local internet marketing company. Laura hasn’t run across his name before on the company’s website or in a Google search. Maybe he’s new?

Now she can send him a tweet directly through Twitter. And because Twitter is direct communication of only 140 characters (no emails to click open), it’s very likely that the VP will see the tweet and respond to her.

Of course Laura will have to figure out how to write a compelling message in only 140 characters. Yet given the conversational tone of tweets, she can say something along the lines of: Love to meet with you about possible internship. I’m 3 miles away from your office.

The VP getting this tweet can click on Laura’s Twitter profile, and if she’s used her brief profile effectively, there should be enough info for the VP to consider meeting with her.

Thanks to Laura using Twitter, this approach has a much better chance of success than submitting a cover letter with a regular resume and hoping that the assistant to the VP will even show the query to the VP. (And in addition, at this moment in Twitter’s existence, there’s a certain “club” atmosphere with the other people on Twitter. So Laura is already put in a more favorable light by having used Twitter to approach the VP.)

Do you have other examples of how you can use social media networks to pursue internships or jobs?

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