Making it work for you

Having a coffee with someone. It’s an informal setting that allows for a quick and pleasant sharing of ideas, experiences and advice. It could be as effective online as in real life.

Current employers, working professionals, alumni/alumnae and retired professionals meet with you for a casual conversation over a cup of coffee, to talk about their fields of interest, and their careers.

This is what you can do to prepare well as a guest

1. Write down the key questions you’d like to get answered.

Some suggestions:

Career Advice
  • How did the person you’ll meet get to where she/he is right now: what education did they have, what career steps did they make?
  • What would they have done differently when they would start again?
  • What courses or activities would they recommend you to sign up to?
  • What’s their view on the kind of education you would need to take?
Industry/ Field of interest
  • What are the main themes or topics their organization or their industry is currently focussing on? What are the biggest opportunities; what are the biggest threats?
  • How’s the field of interest they’re in about to develop in terms of job prospects? Are there many vacancies?
  • Which characteristics would make you successful in their industry, which education would work best?
  • How does their organization or branche stand out versus peers or competitors; what makes them more attractive ?
  • What would make you fit well with them: what wouldn’t ? What personality traits would make it work, which wouldn’t ?
Life style
  • How do working hours look like?
  • What is needed to get paid well. What would I need to invest in, or ‘give up’.
  • Would they have made different decisions during their career if they look back (i.e. was it worth the sacrifice in personal time)?

2. Prepare a short introduction of yourself

Think about how you would quickly introduce yourself. Presenting yourself well help in building rapport quickly, which opens up the person you meet.

Tell them where you are at right now. What subjects interest you most. What things do you do outside of work, school, college. Explain why you are looking forward meeting the professional, and what you hope to get out of the meeting.

3. Be on time & dress appropriately

It’s all about that first impression, and showing respect to the person you’re meeting. This applies to online meetings as well.

Yes, it’s informal, but it’s also an opportunity to make a good first impression on a professional you may lean on for further reference or advice.

Talking with a CEO of a large company may require a different dress code than talking with someone running a tattoo shop, but make an effort to dress for the occasion.

4. Share your ideas about their product or service

Some of your hosts may have retired from work and share their careers. Some hosts are running their own company, or are employed at an organization. In general, it would help your host if you could share some of your thoughts about their product or service. How do you view it? What do you like, dislike? What would you change?

Sharing your ideas, when offered constructively, would also help build your relationship and network. This may be beneficial for you when looking for internships or job shadows later on.

5. Stay in touch

Make sure you thank them for the time spent. Ask if you could stay in touch, maybe exchange email addresses. When you’re interested, ask if they would consider to offer you a job shadow or internship. If it concerns an alum, check if they plan to come over in upcoming events.

6. Reflect

Think about it. What did you like most about what you heard; what did you like less. What actions do you need to take as next steps?