Our team at ProjectEd is made up of teachers, designers, entrepreneurs, and life-long learners. Not only are we passionate about edtech, but we also believe in moving education forward in every sense of the word. Learning comes in all shapes and sizes, and it does not stop outside of the classroom. Whether you are in high school or just about to graduate into the “real world,” internships are a great way to learn on the job for the job you potentially aspire to have after school.
With concrete aspirations intact and a clear passion for edtech, Columbia Business School student Jessica Langman cold emailed us early in the spring, hoping we would have room for an MBA internship. Turns out, this wasn’t Jessica’s first rodeo in the tech industry. Before becoming a full-time MBA student to pivot into edtech, she’s held leadership positions at three innovative, fast-paced companies — from digital marketing at Rokkan, brand strategy at WeWork, to storytelling at WME | IMG. She tells us that she was impressed with our business model and our roster of edtech clients, but we were just as captivated by her resume. Our CTO, Gillian, reached out the very next day and after a week of interviews, the rest became history. We hired our very first MBA intern, assisting us with business development and project management.
You may be thinking that this was just a stroke of good luck, since most cold emails tend to go straight from the inbox to the trash — right? When you play your communication cards right, you may be surprised by how cold emails can help you in your career.
Here are some tips we’ve learned from Jessica about how to make the most of your network, when you are just starting out in your career.
1. Take advantage of your alma mater and alumni network — they are there to help!
While we may cringe at how The Office’s Andy Bernard eagerly represented his college alma mater, he may have been on to something. Jessica knew she wanted to work in edtech after graduating, so she took the time to reach out to alums who were already thriving in the industry:
“I was astonished and supremely grateful for the swift responses I received from CBS alums who work in edtech, all of whom were incredibly eager to offer insight into the industry and support during my internship search.”
Every university/college has an extensive alumni network you can tap into. The shared bond already puts you ahead of the game, and most alumni are always willing to lend a helping hand in the industry.
2. Birds of a feather flock together at meetups and events.
If you’re interested in something, chances are there are other people who share that interest in your local area as well. Jessica advises aspiring edtech students to join local edtech meetups. If you are in NYC, she recommends Built In NYC and filtering for local edtech startups.
Whether you’re interested in niche edtech technology such as VR/AR or the vast landscape of edtech conferences, there will always be something of interest to you (and people who want to help you move education forward, too)!
3. When finally reaching out, remember the 3 Ps.
If you’re Googling “cold email templates,” you may be going down the path of emails that go straight to junk. When you finally decide to reach out to your network, we recommend integrating 3 Ps in your message: make it Personal, show you’re Passionate, and have a Plan of action.
Here’s what we mean: When Jessica reached out to us, it was Personal — she let us know who she was and why she was interested in our work. She further showed that she was Passionate about edtech, so she wasn’t just looking for any MBA internship. Jessica wanted one that would specifically help her reach her edtech career aspirations and goals. Last, but not least, she had a Plan of action: she asked if we had any opportunities for her or if we could give her some time to learn more about us.
When you’re sending out a lot of cold emails, it can be easy to fall into the trap of sending a template that is “one size fits all” because it’s easier and less time-consuming. But if you do take a little time, who you are reaching out to will surely take notice of the effort.
After 6 months of interning with us, Jessica is back at Columbia Business School to finish her degree. When she graduates May 2019, she hopes to find “an awesome role in edtech in either growth or product marketing.” You’ll want to keep in touch with this future edtech rockstar — we know we will!
Interested in learning more about a career in edtech? Feel free to send us a message. We’ll be happy to guide you along the way!