This blog post was written by Jennifer Winchell, Stewardship Coordinator in the Whitman College Development Office and expert in the intricacies of maintaining important relationships. She spends a great deal of time crafting her own thank you notes.
You did your homework, but forgot to turn it in: No credit. You pumped up your bike tire, but didn’t screw the value back on: Flat again. Every task has steps that you must follow through with or the whole thing can fall apart. That includes a job or internship hunt. Read on to learn about an important part of keeping your search on track.
Moments in the Process of Getting a Job or Internship
There are lots of ways to go about exploring careers and jobs. For instance:
1) You’re interested in law school, so your mother arranges a lunch for you with her lawyer friend.
2) You are thinking about a career as a research analyst and attend an SEC function to meet Whitman alumni in this field.
3) During your summer internship, you ask the executive director of the organization to spend an hour talking to you about what is happening in the field.
4) You apply for a position and have a short, introductory phone interview with a human resources manager.
The above are all great moves for pursuing your career interests. But what crucial step do you need to take next? Write a thank you note!
The Step You Might Forget!
The thank you note is often skipped, especially by those raised on instant communication. In the workplace, however, hand-written notes still matter. They are not only a good way to express your gratitude for people’s time and effort, but also a way to forge or maintain professional connections that can have an influence on your career.
So, take the time to write a thank you note to your mother’s friend, the alumna, the executive director and the human resources manager. Each of these people will appreciate the gesture and know that you are truly interested in the position or field; they will also have your name sitting in the front of their brain when job possibilities arise!
Steps to Writing a Great Thank You Note
A well-written thank you note is both personal and professional. It’s personal because you include details about your interactions. It’s professional in the sense that you use proper English, check your spelling and punctuation, and keep the language fairly formal.
If you can’t think of anything to write, follow these steps:
- Thank the person for their time.
- Mention something about the interaction with them – something you learned or something you shared.
- Repeat your interest in the field or the job.
- Let them know you are available if they need further information.
For example, after a SEC event or informational interview:
Dear Mr. Lang,
It was great to meet you at the recent Whitman event. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me about your experience in research analysis.
I appreciated hearing details of the everyday tasks involved in this type of work. It gave me an even better sense that this field might be right for me. I am currently taking several classes that will provide me with an opportunity to gain more analytical skills and may be looking for a summer internship to put them to the test.
I would like to stay in touch, if we could, as I move forward in my education. It is always fun to hear about other people’s experiences at Whitman and after. Thanks again.
(add your email address or phone number)
Or after a phone interview:
Dear Ms. Jones,
Thank you for taking the time to interview me on the phone on Tuesday for the Research Analyst position.
I enjoyed learning about your company’s many recent successes. I appreciated the opportunity to share with you my experience in student/faculty research and tell you about my internship, which gave me a set of skills which seem to fit well with what your company is pursuing.
After speaking with you, I am even more excited about the possibility of joining your company and would appreciate an update as you move through the hiring process. Please let me know if I can supply you with additional information or references. Thanks again, and I hope to hear from you soon.
(add your email address or phone number)
If you can, it is best to write the note by hand. Give yourself enough time for this, because if you make a mistake, you need to start fresh. Crossed out words or scribbles are not acceptable. If you really don’t trust your handwriting, type the note and just sign it.
The Final Step
Most important, be timely. 24 hours is the appropriate timing to get your note in the mail. Don’t let it just sit on your desk.