In advance of Wednesday’s Virtual Industry Trek to Wayfair, we’re resharing the blog post “7 Tips to the Make the Most of a (Virtual) Industry Trek,” originally published on CSE Connect March 30, 2021. Not registered for this trek? Sign up now!
Whether remote or in person, Industry Treks are great ways to broaden your career aspirations and your network. Even though our annual trek to Adobe went virtual this year, we still met with campus recruiting, enjoyed a product management panel and “toured” the office via a fun, interactive slideshow.
The alumni and employers who host us are real people – people who want to meet you and help you succeed – so it’s just as important to show appreciation and interest on a Zoom call as it is during an in-person visit. Below are seven tips to help you put your best foot forward on a virtual Industry Trek!
#1) Be Present: Being present means more than simply entering an online meeting room. It means showing up physically and mentally. To get the most out of a virtual trek, prepare to be on camera and, if possible, unmute yourself to ask questions. Try simple hacks like closing your email browser so as not to be distracted during the visit and focusing on your posture (sit up straight with both feet firmly planted on the ground) to look and feel more alert.
#2) Show You Are Listening: Is there anything worse than posing a question to a group of people and being met with awkward silence? You’re left to wonder: “Did I say something wrong? Did I forget to unmute myself? Did everyone wander away from their computers to eat lunch?” Industry Trek speakers can feel the same way. When employers pose questions or look for feedback, answer them! If they make jokes, laugh! Speakers will appreciate the response and you’ll stand out as the smart, engaged student you are.
#3) Help Direct the Conversation: Industry Treks are for you. From the speaker’s background and current role to the company’s culture and hiring practices, there are many conversational paths a trek can take. Hosts want to tailor content to topics that interest you most, but they aren’t mind readers. Don’t be shy to let them know how they can provide the most value to you during the session.
#4) Know the Speaker: We live in the age of LinkedIn and Google so it’s easy to do research before a trek. To make the most of your visit, understand where the speaker sits in his organization. Would you ask a campus recruiter, recent graduate and managing director the same questions? Probably not. The cool thing about treks is that we often meet with all three. So you might ask the campus recruiter about hiring timelines and company culture; the analyst about day-to-day job responsibilities and expectations; and the managing director about high-profile projects and industry trends. You will find that all speakers bring unique perspectives and value to a trek!
#5) Ask (Interesting!) Questions: You’ve probably heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a silly question.” That may be true as long as you genuinely care about the answer and can’t access the information through a quick internet search. That being said, put some thought into what you actually want to learn from these smart and talented people. Avoid filler questions (“What is your vacation policy?”) and hyper-personalized questions (“I applied to a financial analyst role at your company two weeks ago; why haven’t I heard back?”). Instead, opt for meatier questions about an employer’s work experiences, industry insights and career advice, or high-level recruiting questions about talent gaps, advice for students and interview preparedness.
#6) Look for Networking Opportunities: Networking is an important part of the trek experience. Consider sending speakers a LinkedIn request with a note of excitement before a visit so you stand out on the call. When you follow up with them after the trek, remind them who you are (“Thank you for answering my question on the future of work.”). Also consider how you might add value to the relationship by sharing an interesting article or offering to connect them with someone in their field.
#7) Say Thank You: At the end of the day, everyone likes to feel appreciated. Trek hosts donate time, energy and expertise to plan informative Industry Trek visits for you. A simple thank you goes a long way!
Virtual Industry Treks still provide a lot of value. You’re able to network with alumni and employers, learn about top companies and develop new ideas about your career goals. Master these seven tips and you’re sure to get the most out of the virtual Industry Trek experience!