Best piece of advice: Talk to as many people as you can and often.
It occurred to me that over the past year I’ve conducted 16 informational interviews with wonderfully talented people from Birchbox, Bit.ly, Warby Parker, Buzzfeed, Flavorpill, Eventbrite, Foursquare, and MKG. What also occurred to me was the fact that I haven’t been sharing the advice I received from so many great people. This really clicked for when I had an informational interview last week at the Foursquare headquarters. Besides fangirling over their fancy offices and meeting Dennis Crowley in person, when I sat down with Anna Frenkel, Head of Consumer Marketing at Foursquare I realized she was giving similar advice that Talisa Chang, Product Marketing, at Foursquare did months earlier…
Become a problem solver.
Here’s some highlights from both interviews:
- In your cover letter you should list how you’re going to solve their problems. List details, be specific. Provide challenging examples.
- Get into the company’s mind. What are you going to bring to the table? How can you improve their company?
- Seek out competitors. Ask yourself, what would you do differently?
- Have an active mind.
- And finally my personal favorite quote from Miss Talisa. “Go where there’s momentum. Go where there’s energy.”
Began at Foursquare in customer service and community management and started looking for pain points that they were facing and presented a solution for them.
On Prioritizing: Ask yourself, where can I make the biggest impact?
On figuring yourself out, start thinking about:
- What is it about a company or job that really interests you? Do you love building Facebook Pages? Content on Twitter? Narrow it down and be specific.
- What is it about these social media platforms that I wish I would have done? What problem was (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, etc) trying to solve?
I’ve learned two important things from these interviews. Not only does Foursquare like problem solvers, but what these interviews made me realize was how so few companies look or ask for these things. It seems to become more about your resume, what you’ve done, and who you know and less about why this company in the first place or what problems still need to be solved.
Another thing I’ve realized was that I’m clueless in what is it about working in my industry that really interests me. In this economy and more specifically my industry of tech and startups, you’re expected to wear all hats. Even now I do a little bit of everything from event planning, to social media, to marketing and promoting, to community management. Honestly, I was completely thrown off by this question from Anna — How can anyone narrow it down, when you’re expected to do it all? Yet, I understand the importance behind the question. It really forces you to find what you love. And for me, I enjoy being a community manager. I love connecting and interacting with fans of a brand. I love story telling. I think that’s why I like conducting these informational interviews, it’s about learning from everyday people. I must say I’m also pretty obsessed with research, finding what works and what doesn’t with brands, identifying opportunities, and finding what new trends are out there. Above all though, I really would love to Instagram all day. 😉
“We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein