I have heard my father say the phrase, “It’s a numbers game” to me countless times throughout my life in reference to everything and anything. Applying to college was a numbers game in that the more schools you applied to, the more acceptance letters you were likely to get. This helps to explain why I applied to 10 schools (with a special shout-out to Indiana University for winning me over).
It was this same numbers game mentality that came into major effect when I was applying for internships for the summer after my junior year. Having growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then attending school in Bloomington, Indiana, I had become a well-seasoned (no pun intended) Midwesterner, prompting me to want to see what else was out there. Aside from my desire to go somewhere new, the delicious tacos and having an older sister living there drew me to Austin, Texas.
During the early spring of my junior year, I was open to anything communications oriented including public relations, advertising, marketing, branding, etc. Although Austin may seem very specific in and of itself, I wound up reaching out to more than 100 companies in search of an internship. Some of the companies said they wanted an intern and had an official application; others I contacted by sending an email to their “info@” or “hello@” addresses saying who I was and what I wanted to do.
After the first batch of applications and emails, I heard back with a yes or no from only about 20% of companies. This was not the most encouraging statistic I have ever achieved, but being the youngest of three daughters, I was not to be ignored. I reached back out and followed up with all of the companies I hadn’t heard back from originally in hopes of getting more replies. I kept track of all of this by creating a document with the name of the company, information about them, the date I contacted them, date of follow up, etc.
I sent yet another email in the form of a reply so that the original email with my resume attached was convenient for the recipient. This email was just a follow up in which I also mentioned that I would be making a trip to Austin in the near future and would appreciate the opportunity to meet with them, even if it was just for the sake of making a connection. To my satisfaction, this sparked more interest and promoted more responses. I guess the fact that I went to school in Indiana also confused some people as I also received several emails making sure I knew their company was based in Austin.
I did wind up making a trip to Austin at the beginning of April and managed to line up 10 meetings throughout the Friday and Monday I was in town. Of those 10, seven were for internship interviews and the other three were simply about networking. By the end of that week, I had four offers of which I wound up choosing two. Neither internship was going to pay me so I figured I might as well get twice the experience and make twice the connections.
As you can see it really is a numbers game. I started off contacting 100+ companies, ultimately received responses, both positive and negative, from about 40, met with 10, got four offers and ended up having two internships in one summer. If you limit the number of people you reach out to, companies you contact, etc., then you in turn are limiting yourself of potential opportunities to thrive!