The Career Handbook - Colin Powell School

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The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership Career Handbook OFFICE



We encourage you to start seeking mentors and building your professional experiences as soon as you enroll at CCNY. This might include joining student organizations and seeking leadership roles on campus. It might also mean pursuing internships in fields that are aligned with your career goals. By the time you graduate from CCNY, we want you to have had the experiences that can inform the first—or next—steps in your career. My sincere thanks to Debbie Cheng, our Director of Fellowships and Public Service Partnerships, and Ashif Hassan, our Coordinator of Private Sector Partnerships, for putting this manual together and for all they do to support our students. We hope you find this handbook useful. We are here to support you as you navigate through the next few years. Sincerely,

Andrew Rich I Dean Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership


Toward that end, we offer a range of workshops, events, and one-on-one mentoring to assist you in thinking through your professional future. We have developed this handbook as a resource to get you started, whether you are actively seeking internships and full-time jobs, or curious about the job search process but don’t know where to begin. In this manual, we provide tips on finding mentors, searching for internships and jobs, networking, and writing professional emails. In addition, we offer guidance on job-related materials, including resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. There are many career resources available at City College and on the internet, and this handbook is intended to supplement those by speaking more directly to the Colin Powell School student experience.

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Between classes, jobs and family obligations, you might feel like you have little time to think about your career, but it is never too soon to begin planning. Engaging in career and professional development is as essential as your studies for ensuring you’re ready to hit the ground running in the jobs to which you aspire when you finish your degrees.

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Dear Colin Powell School students,

Getting Started

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In addition to your classes, think about other ways in which you’d like to spend your time. Not everything has to align with your career goals—you may have certain obligations, financial needs, or hobbies that have nothing to do with your future career. But to the extent that you can, spend some of this time working toward your personal development.

How do you begin considering what your career might look like and how you might get there? One way to think about the road ahead is to talk to people who have more knowledge and experience, and who can offer guidance to you. These advisors can serve as your mentors, and the key is to find the right people and to develop relationships.

Here are some pathways to consider.

There are over 150 student clubs at CCNY! In addition to allowing you to become more involved with the CCNY community, clubs may provide leadership and networking opportunities. Getting Part-Time Jobs Many of you already have part-time jobs, which means that you are gaining transferable skills that will help you in your future endeavors (see the section in this handbook on transferable skills). Part-time jobs are usually not directly connected to your studies or

career plans. However, if you can find a part-time job in a field that you’re interested in, so much the better. Getting Internships In contrast to part-time jobs, internships offer entry-level exposure to particular sectors as well as specific skills. They are a great way to learn about organizations or fields, and they can help you decide if you want to pursue this career path or try something different. Internships may be paid or unpaid depending on the organization. For those in unpaid internships, the Colin Powell School offers some

fellowship opportunities or class credit. You should try to complete at least one internship before graduating from CCNY, since this will help boost your resume and make you more marketable when you search for full-time positions. Volunteering Volunteering allows you to support a cause and by definition, it is unpaid. This may be something you do for your community or for an issue that you care about. While you may not get the same sort of skills that you would in an internship, you can still gain transferable skills and expand your network.


Finding Mentors

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Joining Clubs

Someone who is one year ahead of you Where do you want to be in one year? Look for a student who is one year ahead of you and who shares some of your career goals. Maybe this is someone in one of your classes, fellowship programs, or clubs. This type of mentor can provide advice on short-term goals and smaller decisions. They may be able to tell you about summer

internship opportunities, refer you to a helpful professor, or advise you on classes. Someone who is five years ahead of you Where do you want to be in five years? Look for alumni or other young professionals who are in the fields that you would like to enter. How did they get to where they

are now, and what can you learn from their journeys? Someone who gives the longer-term perspective What do you want to do in the long term? These mentors may be professors, staff members, supervisors, and other more experienced professionals who can offer a range of advice on different opportunities and pathways.

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Here are three types of mentors that you might seek out:

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Starting the Mentor-Mentee Relationship Now that you’ve identified people to be your mentors, how do you go about asking them to be in this relationship? The short answer is—you don’t. You should never formally ask someone to be your mentor. Instead, arrange to have coffee or set up a meeting with them. Read ahead to the section in this handbook on informational interviews and use some of the tips offered there. Do some research on your potential mentors and ask them about their career paths. Let them know that you’re interested in similar opportunities and ask for advice. Most people enjoy talking about their experiences, so take the time to listen and absorb this information!

Maintaining the Relationship Once you’ve had a meeting with your potential mentor, continue to cultivate that relationship by sending follow-up emails, scheduling regular check-ins, and generally staying in touch. There is no uniform structure to this relationship, so you should figure out what works for both of you. You will have to put in work to develop and maintain a mentor-mentee relationship, and not everyone that you identify as a potential mentor will end up being one. However, building these relationships will prove useful in the long term. They help you lay out a roadmap for the years ahead, and they serve as critical nodes in your network.

Transferable Skills

Transferable skills are the skills that you’ve developed through clubs, internships, part-time jobs, and class projects.



Strong work ethic


Written and oral communication


Resume Bullet Point

College assistant

Identified strategies for streamlining student intake process

Sales manager

Reduced shipping fees by refining projections and consolidating orders

Member of student club

Collaborated with club events committee to invite and host three guest speakers on campus

Customer service representative

Coordinated with two other representatives to process 50 refund requests per week

Security guard

Managed four overnight shifts each week throughout the summer

Member of sports team

Played baseball for two years, devoting at least 15 hours per week to practice and tournaments

Marketing intern

Analyzed data from fiscal year 2019 to identify trends in smoothie sales

Class project

Surveyed 50 CCNY students and assessed impact of COVID-19 on mental health

Campaign volunteer

Edited outreach materials and solicited campaign contributions from 100 constituents

Conference presenter

Presented preliminary research findings at CUNY student conference

Club president

Spearheaded social media campaign to raise awareness for student needs

Class project

Led a team of three, delegating tasks, facilitating meetings, and structuring final presentation

Community volunteer

Created mentorship program that pairs five high school and elementary school students

Social media Intern

Advocated for and implemented new Instagram series featuring community members assisting each other




Transferable Skill

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We have listed some of the top attributes that employers are looking for in entry-level candidates. These are often included in job descriptions, and the key is to figure out how your background might align with these skills. Here are some examples that might resonate with your experiences.

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Throughout your time at CCNY, you’ve gained valuable, transferable skills that you can use to build your resumes and cover letters.


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A resume summarizes your education, work experience, skillsets and accomplishments in one document. Whether you’ve volunteered at the YMCA, made the Dean’s list three semesters in a row, or gotten accepted into the Colin Powell Fellowship Program, your resume highlights your achievements for potential employers to see.

How Should I Format My Resume? Here are some general rules: • set .5 to 1-inch margins on each side of the page • use a legible, common font (i.e. Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri) sized between 10-12 pt, except for your name in the header (can be 12-14 pt) • try to keep it to one page, though you could extend to a second page depending on the role you’re seeking • describe your experience in bullet points • list your experience in reverse chronological order (most recent first) in each category of your document • don’t include references in your resume

FORMING BULLET POINTS: THE STAR METHOD STAR is an acronym for ‘Situation, Task, Activity, Result.’ It’s an approach that can help you create effective descriptions for each bullet point, giving employers better insight into you as a candidate. This method also works when answering interview questions or writing a cover letter.


What action did you take? What did you do to solve this problem? (use action verbs)


What was the result or outcome of your action? How did it benefit the organization? Can this result be quantified? In most cases, you’ll be able to combine the ‘situation’ and ‘task’.

Example 1: SITUATION : You’re the branch associate for an equipment warehouse and responsible for supervising shipments, maintaining inventories, and tracking area sales. TASK : When you got hired, the company did not have a system for inventory control, and this resulted in delayed order fulfillment and a high volume of order cancellations.

• Improved on-time order fulfillment by 32%, increased profits by 27%, and reduced canceled orders by 76%. Or you can combine the bullet points if you’re pressed for space. • Solved inventory management deficit by redesigning inventory control system, quality controls, network integration, and training; on-time order fulfillment improved by 32%, profits increased by 27%, and canceled orders decreased by 76%.

ACTION : You led a team to redesign the inventory control system, implemented new quality controls, improved network integration, and revised new-hire training.

Example 2:

RESULT : Within four months, the company’s on-time fulfillment record soared from 62% to 94%, resulting in a 76% decline in canceled orders. By year’s end, profits rose by 27%.


Using the details above, your bullet points might look something like this: • Led effort to resolve inventory management deficit at ABC Corp. • Redesigned inventory control system, quality controls, network integration, and training efforts.

SITUATION /TASK: As a marketing intern, you helped manage a client database.

Initiated a review of the information to see if it was up-to-date RESULT: Saved company money on a direct-mail campaign BULLET POINT: Initiated review of contact database; removed duplicate files and outdated contact information; saved company money on annual direct-mail campaign


What exactly are you trying to achieve from your situation, or overcome?

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SITUATION: Job, challenge, role, or other context — What’s the situation you were facing?

ACTIONVERBS A N A LY S I S Analyzed Ascertained Assessed Compared Computed Conceptualized

Devised Diagnosed Estimated Evaluated Examined Forecasted

Measured Negotiated Prescribed Prioritized Projected Researched

Substantiated Synthesized Theorized Validated Verified

Deliberated Demonstrated Drafted Edited Educated Highlighted

Mediated Moderated Negotiated Persuaded Presented Publicized

Represented Shaped Specified Spoke Submitted Suggested

Engineered Established Executed Galvanized Implemented Increased

Inspired Mentored Motivated Negotiated Persuaded Pioneered

Spearheaded Transformed United

Compiled Diverted Divided Documented Integrated Labeled

Listed Merged Officiated Organized Ranked Rated

Reorganized Repositioned Researched Standardized

Generated Identified Invented Procured Reconciled Rectified

Reduced Reformed Reinforced Remedied Remodeled Revitalized

Solicited Streamlined Strengthened Supplemented

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C O M M U N I C AT I O N Adapted Addressed Clarified Communicated Composed Concluded LEADERSHIP Advocated Budgeted Chaired Developed Diagnosed Directed O R G A N I Z AT I O N Accumulated Allocated Arranged Charted Classified Collected P R O B L E M - S O LV I N G Aided Alleviated Counseled Debugged Eased Extracted

Sample Resume Contact Information Include name, address, phone number, email address and URL for Linkedin page. *No personal information (gender, age, birth date) *If you regularly use an english nickname, put it in parentheses between your first and last name. Example: Mei-Ling (Molly) Wang

Education City College of New York, City University of New York August 2019 - Present Bachelor of Science in Economics | GPA: 4.00 | Dean’s List: Fall 2020 | Expected graduation: May 2023 Professional Experience Bronx Lacrosse Summer Counselor • •

Bronx, New York May 2019 – August 2019

Supervised 5-15 teenagers at a time to promote engagement with activities, enforce conduct when needed, and ensure safety Developed crafting programs by incorporating a basket weaving activity, which required training 3 staff members, budgeting for all the supplies, and leading the activity for 15 teenagers

Starbucks New York, New York Barista October 2017 - Present • •

Provided effective customer service in a fast-paced environment, resulting in promotion to lead trainer for all new hires transitioning into the same role Initiated engagement with customers to offer assistance and promote current sales in order to enhance customer satisfaction

National Honor Society, DeWitt Clinton High School Treasurer • • •

Bronx, New York June 2017 – June 2019

Accounted for all money during society’s events and reported all of the group’s money to the high school’s treasurer Collected member dues and maintained a record of dues paid by students using a spreadsheet Assisted NHS secretaries with attendance and minutes responsibilities when necessary

Volunteer Colin Powell Elementary School Teacher’s Aid • • •

Union City, New Jersey March 2018 – June 2019

Assisted 2nd and 3rd grade math teacher with students during classes by distributing materials, providing one-on-one support, and taking attendance Led tutor sessions after school to provide an individualized learning experience Established and maintained a safe and healthy learning environment for students by arranging classrooms daily

Skills Language: Basic conversational Spanish Computer: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Docs, Photoshop

Skills This is where you can list any hard skills that are relevant to your roles. For instance, you can include whether you’re conversant in any language, or if you have computer software knowledge.

Education List universities you’ve attended, degree(s) or certificates you’re pursuing, expected graduation month and year, GPA (if above 3.0). and any honors you’ve received Professional Experience Put your work experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent first) Include organization name, position, dates you worked, city, state and description

Pro Tip • You can use the description of the role you’re applying for to help you decide what experiences you want to include in your resume. • It’s okay to include experiences and activities from high school as a first year or sophomore until you get more involved in your junior and senior year.

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Participate in the BASTA Fellowship Program 2020

This can be a one-liner that states what you’re applying to, or what sort of roles you’re seeking



Objective (optional)

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Benny Beaver 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031 | (212)111-1111 | _____________________________________________________________________________________________

Cover Letters

Cover letters are critical to your job application—this is your chance to introduce yourself and demonstrate your value to the organization. Each cover letter should be tailored to the position or organization to which you are writing. Your goal is to stand out from the other applicants, to persuade your potential employer to review your job materials and invite you for an interview. While most cover letters are written in response to a job description, you can also a send a general letter of inquiry to ask about vacancies.

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Step 1: Research the organization Learn about the organization, its mission, and its programs. Why are you interested in working there? What value can you add? Step 2: Review the job description Highlight keywords and required/preferred skills. How do your skills and achievements match those listed in the job description? Step 3: Build the components How do your experiences overlap with the job requirements? Write down examples of your internships, extracurricular activities, or experiences that align with the job description and organization’s mission. Step 4: Draft your letter Follow the general format of a professional cover letter, but tailor the content to this position. Try to use the same keywords that the organization uses in its job description. Keep your letter to one single-spaced page. Include a heading, formal salutations, and three to four paragraphs of text. Write in a professional and confident tone, but let your enthusiasm come through. Use action verbs and describe concrete accomplishments. Make sure that you have no grammatical errors or typos as these can distract readers and be interpreted as sloppy work. Pay attention to formatting and design; keep them consistent.

Tips • Do not begin your cover letter with “My name is Benny Beaver.” Your name should be at the top of your cover letter. There is no need to repeat it. Instead, indicate your enthusiasm for the position, how you learned about it, and why you are a good fit. The first paragraph is very important in catching a reader’s attention. • In general, it is better to send PDF versions of your resume and cover letter instead of Word documents, since PDFs cannot be easily altered. • If you are emailing your resume and cover letter, you could copy and paste the body of your cover letter (from “Dear…” to “Sincerely, Benny Beaver”) into your email, and then attach your resume and cover letter as PDFs.

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership


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Benny Beaver 160 Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031 | (212)111-1111 | _________________________________________________________________________________________

Use the same heading as your resume.

July 1, 2020 Dr./Mr./Ms. First and Last Name Title Name of Company/Organization Street Address City, State, and Zip Code Dear Dr./Mr./Ms. Last Name,

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I am extremely interested in the Project Facilitator position for CUNY’s Summer Intensive for Public Policy (SIPP), which I saw posted on Indeed. As a rising senior majoring in political science at The City College of New York, I believe that my academic interests in public policy and my professional experience as a college assistant make me an ideal candidate for this position. For the past two semesters, I have worked as a college assistant in the Dean’s Office at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. I scheduled appointments, communicated with students, took meeting minutes, and entered data. In addition to working with students in this capacity, I am a first-generation college student who grew up in Queens. I thus have firsthand knowledge of the issues faced by college students in urban settings, which has helped me better address the concerns of students seeking assistance from the Dean’s Office. I am also well-versed in Blackboard, Zoom, and Slack, as I quickly learned these platforms once CCNY transitioned to online learning and working as a result of the pandemic. In addition, I am a political science major with a deep interest in working on domestic policy issues, specifically around immigration. During my internship with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs last summer, I conducted outreach for IDNYC, the largest municipal ID program in the country. I managed IDNYC’s social media accounts and partnered with neighborhood associations. My internship exposed me to some of the challenges that an agency faces in reaching undocumented communities, and further confirmed my desire to pursue a career in policy working to address these issues. With my interest in public policy and my administrative experience in an urban university, I believe that I would be an excellent candidate for the SIPP position. I appreciate your consideration and I look forward to speaking with you soon. Sincerely, Benny Beaver

Insert signature if you want, though this is optional for electronic submissions.

Last paragraph: Reiterate your interest.

Address the letter to the position’s supervisor. If you can’t figure that out, address it to the Human Resources manager. If you can’t find a name, write “Dear Hiring Manager.” Avoid “To whom it may concern.”

First paragraph: Start by identifying the position that you’re applying for and where you saw it. If you have a contact in the organization, mention that here. You don’t need to say that you’re at CCNY, but in this case, that detail is relevant to the job.

Middle paragraph(s): Use examples to demonstrate the value you add. Use keywords from the job description where possible. The words highlighted in these paragraphs are keywords from this particular job description.

LinkedIn Profiles

to be viewed than those without

Opt for a professional-looking headshot. Bonus points for those taken professionally!

*according to Forbes

“LinkedIn profile summary starting

with an “I”

can be very powerful & persuasive” * Saya Laura M. Labovich, CEO of The Career Strategy Group

The number of characters allowed for a LinkedIn summary. Use them!

STORY TIME Use prompts like this to craft the perfect summary of your career and what you have to offer.

no spouses

My favorite job was X, because it helped me to: I place high value on: What makes me unique is:


the more the merrier you should be connected to at least 100 professionals

start adding current coworkers, former colleagues, and professional networking acquaintances

no dogs

no vacation snaps

no party scenes

5+ SKILLS to your profile =17x more profile views and 33x contact rate Adding


When managers/clients, friends, speak of me favorably, they call me:

no children




Skills and Endorsements

SEO Yourself optimize your profile with knowledge sets and key skills, which will act as keywords when recruiters search LinkedIn for candidates. JAVA

Business Intelligence




Include 4 to 6 bulleted accomplishments that reflect your contributions. What was the Challenge? What Action did you take? Result - how did you better the organisation, project, department or the client.


aim for quality over quantity.

According to LinkedIn, users with recommendations are three times more likely to receive relevant offers and inquiries

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Profiles with a photo are

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A platform where you can interact with industry professionals, highlight your experience and skills, search for jobs, and enhance your professional reputation. The better your profile looks, the more likely you are to be contacted by recruiters and hiring professionals.

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Get found online

Choose a professional looking photo. First impressions are critical, so keep your industries in mind when selecting one. Your headline should align with your brand, or tell professionals what you’re seeking.


500+ connections

Customize your URL for easy sharing and access.

I’m a senior at CCNY majoring in Economics with a passion for community and youth development. I’d like to hone my skills in communication, engagement, and organizing, and teach financial literacy in low-income communities.

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership 1 year 3 months

Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Jun 2019 - Present 1 year 3 months Greater New York City Area n

• • •

Present course material using online management system and direct classroom instruction Engage with students and offer work sessions for approximately 20 students Create additional teaching materials that supplement course syllabus, track student learning and class outcomes

List all the experiences that you want marketed. Bullet points are a good way to organize your work experience and describe responsibilities. You can also add pictures, presentations, and papers to each experience to enhance your profile. List the degree(s) you earned in reverse chronological order and provide any activities and societies you participated in while working towards your education.

Additional Tips

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Bachelor of Arts - BA, Economics 2017 - 2021 Activities and Societies: Colin Powell Fellowship Program, Coding Club, Entrepreneurship Student Club

LinkedIn Alumni Search Tool

Available for anyone with a LinkedIn account, you can use this tool to help you discover where alumni work and their paths after CCNY.

- Ask credible sources to write a recommendation on your profile for people to view. - Endorse your connections! It’s more than likely they’ll return the favor. - Continue to grow your connections. Add peers, co-workers, mentors, and even your older connections as a way to stay in touch.

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New York, New York


Seeking full-time opportunities in community development for Summer 2021 | Social entrepreneur

Make your personal brand statement compelling and personable. Focus on creative ways to encourage people to want to learn more about you.

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Benny Beaver

Job and Internship Searches

Having trouble figuring out what your career and internship goals are? Visit the Career and Professional Development Institute (CPDI) office and schedule an appointment with a counselor for additional help. The first step to any job or internship search is having an idea of which fields or industries you’re interested in and the types of positions you’re suitable for. Assess your interests, identify your strengths, and do research! It’s also helpful to connect with peers, faculty, and alumni to get a sense of options that are available. Other items to consider are location, compensation, organization size, work environment, culture, and the mission/vision.

Step 1: Set a schedule Searching for a new job is a full-time job in itself! We estimate that job seekers should dedicate 30 hours a week to their job search activities and 15 hours per week for internship searches. To get started, refer to the Job Search Sites section below and reach out to people in your network to see if they know of any current job openings in your area of interest. Step 2: Tailor and review job materials Check out our sections about writing resumes and cover letters to see how you can tailor your content to the job description. Once you’ve prepared your materials, have a CPDI counselor or one of your professors review them as well. Step 3: Create a list of references Select people who can speak to your skills and work ethic, such as professors, supervisors, and advisors. Before you apply, contact a few people to see if they will serve as references. If you’ve advanced in the application process, be sure to let your references know. Step 4: Apply! Just do it! Step 5: Continue to network and practice interviewing Networking is a constant part of the search process and should continue even after you’ve applied to jobs. In preparation for your interviews, research the organizations thoroughly. Enlist mentors or peers to conduct mock interviews. Step 6: Follow up Keep a list of the positions you’ve applied to and when the applications close. Note when and how you submitted your applications. Send follow-up emails one to two weeks after you’ve applied.

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• Set weekly goals for yourself that are attainable, based on the number of applications to send out, the number of company websites to explore, etc. • When you’re practicing interview questions, consider using the STAR method to answer them. It’s a good way to tell the story of your experience by including situation, task, action, and result.

Job Search Sites Indeed — includes all the job listings from major job boards, newspapers, associations, and company career pages Idealist — nonprofit organization in NYC that posts jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities; also has a graduate school directory Handshake and WayUp — job search sites tailored to college students ZipRecruiter — employment marketplace for job seekers and employers LinkedIn — one of the most important platforms for networking and job hunting; see the section on LinkedIn profiles in this career handbook USAJobs — lists civil service job opportunities with federal agencies Jopwell and INROADS — for Black, Latinx, and Native American students and professionals Randstad USA — for temporary work; the Colin Powell School has a partnership with them, so mention that you are a student here

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• Dedicate a workspace where you know you’ll remained focused while applying.


Additional Tips:

Professional Emails

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You want to reach out to someone in your network, or maybe someone that you don’t know personally — now what? Here are some tips for professional emails.

Keep your signature brief. You can list one or two positions.

I am a junior at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, part of The City College of New York, and I am hoping to work for a nonprofit that focuses on youth development. I came across your profile in LinkedIn when I was searching for CCNY alumni working on these issues. I noticed that you work at the Children’s Defense Fund, and I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your work and your career path. Would you be willing to do an informational interview in the next two weeks?

Keep the body of your email concise but thorough.

Spelling and Grammer

I look forward to hearing from you and would appreciata any assistance!

Edit carefully before sending

Sincerely, Benny Beaver The City College of New York | Political Science Major Admissions Ambassador | Secretary, Undergraduate Student Government

Font Style Aa AA Aa Avoid ornate, playful or coloured fonts Emoji

Avoid in professional emails

• Use a professional email address like your CCNY email. If you use Gmail or some other service, your email address should largely consist of your name—not something too playful. • Use professional salutations, such as “Dear / Hi / Hello [Name]” or just use the person’s name. Do not be too informal and use “Hey” unless you have already established a comfortable relationship with that person. • Include a clear subject line, such as “Question about internships at the ACLU.” • Clearly explain why you are writing and provide some context. For instance, if you are inquiring about an internship, include a little bit about yourself (“I am a senior majoring in sociology at CCNY”) and why you are drawn to that organization (“I hope to attend law school in the future and would like to get some experience working on immigration rights”). • Proofread every email. Make sure that you use complete sentences (not run-ons) and proper grammar. Run the spelling and grammar checkers. • Be polite and formal. Tone is easy to misconstrue on email, so read your email out loud to hear how it sounds.

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Identify yourself and your goal. Don’t start with “My name is Benny Beaver.” Your recipient will know who you are from your email address and your email signature.

Dear Mr./Ms. __________,


Start with a salutation.

Subject: Informational Interview with CCNY Student

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Subject Line: Concisely convey your purpose for writing


Networking is the process of building relationships and connecting with others to gather and share professional information. It includes seeking out and connecting with people who can help advance your career.

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WHY SHOULD YOU NETWORK? Here are some reasons why you might want to network: • To look for summer internship or full-time job opportunities; • To learn about specific careers; • To discover opportunities in a certain city or region; • To find mentors within a field; • To keep your options open for the future. YOU ALREADY HAVE A NETWORK, BUT YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO GROW AND MAINTAIN IT You’ve probably already met a lot of people through school and other activities, but how many do you keep in touch with, even loosely? Think about the people that you know. Talking with them about their careers can help strengthen your connections and give you information about different career paths. • Educators - professors, high school teachers, school administrators, etc. • Classmates and peers - students that you have met in class or in clubs • School alumni • Supervisors and coworkers • Family and family friends • Friends of friends • Members of affinity groups - people from your sports teams, clubs, religious groups, and professional organizations • People you admire

• Develop your LinkedIn profile and connect with people that you have met. If you want to connect with people who you have not met, do so judiciously, perhaps with an introductory message. • Ask your connections to introduce you to others who work in your field of interest. • Join clubs, volunteer opportunities, and other organizations that align well with your interests. • Talk to educators and other people in your network about your career aspirations. • Conduct informational interviews and ask people about their career paths.

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• Who are the people who are already in your network that you would feel comfortable reaching out to? • Who would you like to add to your network and how can you reach them? • How do you grow your network?

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• Who is in your network? Look at the categories listed on the left.

Elevator Pitch


An elevator pitch is a 30-second, persuasive speech that convinces someone to listen to you and learn more about you. It is a brief overview of your experience, skills, strengths, and goals. You should have an elevator pitch ready so that you can use it when needed. When would you use an elevator pitch? This could be during an interview, at a job fair, at a professional networking event or conference, in a cover letter, or even during a social event. Networking can happen at any time anywhere, and the key is to be prepared and flexible given the circumstances.

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WHAT SHOULD YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH INCLUDE? Here are some things to consider when constructing your elevator pitch. You can start by writing a draft elevator pitch, then revising and condensing it so that it captures some of these points. You may want slightly different elevator pitches for different scenarios.

1 Very briefly, who are you? 2 What do you want? 3 What do you have to offer? 4 Why are you qualified? 5 What do you want to happen next?

Informational Interviews

When you first contact someone by email, phone, or LinkedIn, introduce yourself and explain why you are reaching out. Request a time to speak on the phone or meet in person. Be polite and professional, and be mindful of their time. You should also be prepared in case they want to talk right away. Do Your Research Research the industry, organization, and this person’s career path. Review your contact’s LinkedIn profile and other online materials. Develop questions that will help you learn more about the organization and field, but don’t ask things that can be easily discovered online.

“Informational interviews are essential to helping you find out more about the type of industry, company, or role you’re interested in,” Dorie Clark, author of Stand Out Networking.

Sample Questions • How did you choose this field and organization? • What is the typical career path for someone starting in this field? • What do you find most rewarding about your work? • What are some of the challenges that one faces in this line of work? • What is your typical workday like? • What skills or qualities do you think are important for someone to be successful in this job or field? • What do you wish someone had told you about this job while you were still in school? • What would you recommend I do next in order to try to enter this field? • Is there anyone else that you recommend I speak with?


Make Contact

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

You can conduct informational interviews with anyone, but you might have better luck reaching out to alumni or someone that you share a connection with, rather than a stranger. This is one way in which your network can prove useful. Many professionals remember what it’s like to be a college student figuring out career paths and are happy to help!

The Career Handbook

An informational interview is a conversation that you schedule with a professional to learn more about various career paths and to build your networks. The goal is to get information and advice, not to apply for a job or internship.

The Career Book


Treat it like an actual interview, except that you are doing most of the asking. Dress professionally in business or business casual attire. In general, you’ll probably want to dress more formally than you would for school—so avoid jeans, sweatshirts, and t-shirts. Arrive early or call on time, and limit your discussion to 20 to 30 minutes. Do not ask for an internship or job. Thank You Notes Thank you notes go a long way—not just for informational interviews, but for most professional interactions. In the case of an info interview, send a thank you note within 24 hours. Mention something specific that you learned and how you will pursue their recommendations. Thank you notes can be handwritten or emailed.

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

26 The City College of New York

Conducting the Informational Interview

Other CCNY Resources CCNY’s Career and Professional Development Institute

CPDI offers several programs that help you pick a major, look for internships, and begin your career after college. They can help you prepare your resume and cover letters, look for internships and jobs, apply to graduate school, and more. In addition, employers interested in hiring CCNY students contact CPDI, and every full-time, part-time, internship and volunteer opportunity is posted in CCNY Career Connections.

The City Tutors provides opportunities for college students to build


professional skills, plan their next career steps, and share their knowledge while expanding academic support to students in underserved programs around NYC. In addition to their tutoring services, The City Tutors has partnered with the Colin Powell School to provide one-on-one help with students’ resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. Fill out this form to participate. Each student is paired with a mentor from a relevant industry sector and receives tailored assistance.

The Career Handbook

Professional Development with The City Tutors

This is a closed group where the Colin Powell School posts internship, job, and other professional development opportunities in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Some of these opportunities are available through partnerships between the Colin Powell School and specific organizations and are only open to Colin Powell School students. We encourage you to post additional opportunities that you come across and to network with other members of the group. Click here for link

Colin Powell School Dean’s Office If after reading this handbook, you still have career-related questions, please reach out to us! For public service internships or careers, email

If you’re interested in the private sector, email

Debbie Cheng, Director of Fellowships and Public Service Partnerships

Ashif Hassan, Finance Assistant and Events & Corporate Partnerships Coordinator

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

LinkedIn Group: Colin Powell School — Student Career Opportunities

CAREER GUIDES Definitive Guide to Internships The New Graduate’s Guide to Job Search The Idealist Guide to Nonprofit Careers for First-Time Job Seekers Getting into Government: A Guide for High Achievers

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