A question I often ask job and internship seekers who don’t know where to start is “Who are the players in this field?” Of course by now, I am not surprised by the blank stares reflected on their faces, but I keep asking the question because I think it is an important one. We, as products of marketing dollars put to good use, can typically recognize and relate to the large corporations, organizations, and industries seen in television, radio, web, and print advertisements, but we may not be so familiar with mid-size or smaller companies in our fields of interest—even if they are in our neighborhood.
To combat this, I encourage students to get to know who else is working in this industry and share with them these job searching strategies:
- utilize Chamber of Commerce Membership Directories;
- find and join Professional Associations;
- explore companies who do contract work with larger corporations;
- and dust off those trusty Yellow Pages!
To give you a little more insight, let’s walk through these processes and see what we can find.
Chamber of Commerce sites
Traditionally, the Chamber of Commerce was a business network organization whose goal is to further the interests of businesses in the region. This still rings true today, but in a world of digital information, many of these organizations have gone online…and that’s wonderful for job seekers! With just the few clicks of the keyboard, I can take job (and internship) seekers across the country to locate the businesses which are specialized or connected to their field of interest. Here is one example to help you follow along.
I met with an ambitious marketing student who wanted an internship experience but was going to Cocoa Beach, Florida for the summer to stay with family. (I know, tough break for him!) Without being in the area to physically drive around, we jumped onto the computer to check out their Chamber of Commerce site. Once on the site, we pulled down a few heading tabs in search of the MEMBER DIRECTORY. Since each site is different, you may have to hop through a few pages but they are usually pretty easy to locate. Now let’s get the something clear….these are NOT job boards. It’s a resource that can introduce you to dozens and dozens of employers in that specific region. Cocoa Beach’s member directory was very nicely organized in categories such as Advertising, Construction, Health Care, Education, Civic Organizations, Restaurants, etc., etc. We clicked through a few categories and started to learn the names of businesses names and even clicked on web addresses. Now we knew the players in the field for this specific region. Some were familiar names and many were new, but we had options…many more options that when we first started. Regarding the individual meeting, there was more work to be done in regards to reaching out to employers but those tips we’ll save for another blog post.
Find and Join Professional Associations
The power of professional associations is definitely something that career veterans are aware of but students are often astounded when they realize they exist. Amber’s story comes to when I think about professional associations. Amber, an education student, came to our office because she was unsure of her future plans to become a teacher and wanted to explore other options connected to teaching. She didn’t want to change her major just look into using her education in different ways. The conversation, because of her own personal interests, eventually meandered to developing curriculum and teaching at museums, environmental education centers, or even camps. Once these areas were mentioned, I quickly jumped on the chance to introduce her to the power of professional associations. I pulled up two professional associations related to her interests, the Association of Science-Technology Centers and the American Camping Association. Through these sites we were able to find out about certification programs, specific masters programs related to the field, annual conferences, regional roundtable events, and national job openings. I’ve also been able to do this same process with History, Safety Management, Fine Arts, Exercise Science, Business, English, and so many more majors. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we aren’t the only ones who love our field and want to talk about it!
Job and internship seekers should also consider that one company may not handle everything internally. Whether it’s a large, mid-size, or small company, it is likely they outsource some of their work to companies who can singularly, expertly focus on one area. These outsourced specialties might include accounting, payroll, advertising, IT, marketing research, or human resources although that’s certainly not all of the possible areas. One recent internet search done by our Director during a meeting was for “top providers of electronic medical records” to showcase the vast number of lesser known companies connected to the healthcare system but not physical hospitals. The long list of results from the search was certainly revealing to participants in the meeting since many students can only name the large hospitals. Searching to find and learn the names of contracted companies will definitely open up more opportunities and work environments to job and internship seekers.
For those of us born and working before “Google It” became a household phrase, we turned to our trusty phone book. Need your car fixed, hair styled, dog groomed, take out for dinner? Open up the yellow pages and let your pointer finger guide you. Well the same rings true still, whether it is the paper book or the online version, I use this resource to direct students to companies who are in their interest area—even if they didn’t know it. Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute, also shares that this is method of finding employers through the yellow pages and then calling or visiting them to ask if they are hiring has about a 65% success rate. That’s actually quite a strong return on time invested considering Bolles also indicates that applying online only touts a 7% success rate.
So now, after going over the details with you, I can ask you, “Who are the players in your desired field?” Put on your investigation hats and do a little digging to uncover who they are and where they are located. Of course, discovering the information is the first step…next you’ll need to reach out to them, actually stop by their business location, and build connections with current employees. But we can chat about those strategies at a later date! For now, happy googling!