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Public Sector Networking

Ask for advice, not a job.

  • Ask for an alum’s input and experience; do not ask for a job or a lead.
  • Ask early.  Do not wait until the night before an interview to find a relevant alumni contact.  Make contacts a few months prior to when you’ll start applying for jobs or internships.
  • After an initial positive contact, update your alumni contact on how your interview went and continue to nurture the relationship as appropriate.

Make it easy for them.

  • Ask clear questions.  Do not ask more than 3 questions to start.  You can always follow up with additional questions if need be.  Distill it down to what you really want to know.
  • Set out clear next steps.  Ask for something simple, such as 15 minutes by telephone or merely an email exchange.
  • Keep it brief.  Be respectful of the alum’s time, and when conversing, keep the conversation to no more than 20 minutes.

Be concise.

  • Identify yourself at the outset by name and Penn Law affiliation, and let them know how you came to find them.
  • Remember that you are contacting a stranger who likely has a very busy job and little incentive to read additional emails (let alone respond to them).  A long email is easier to put off than a short, concise, respectful communication.

Feedback to TPIC/CP&P/Alumni Relations.

  • Some alumni are more than happy to speak with students and assist where possible; others may find it more difficult to find time in their day to respond.  If you have had a particularly positive or negative experience in your attempts to reach out to alumni, please let us know, as this may be helpful in guiding other students reaching out to alumni going forward.