The (Overlooked) Importance of Thank You Letters!
This blog was written by Alison, our Campus Ambassador from Sarah Lawrence College!
While many students are focused on creating their best possible first impressions in professional settings, they often forget or overlook the opportunity to follow up with their newly formed contacts. Following up with new professional contacts not only gives you a chance to reinforce the new relationship and highlight distinctive topics in your conversation, but also allows you to show your gratitude and desire to continue communication. These thank you letters help you stand out from your competition by placing you in the radar of your new contact. As you continue to develop your professional relationships, your name may be the one that comes to their mind when they find out about an appropriate job opening or meet a colleague that they would like to link you with. An instant job offer is not guaranteed, however writing follow up thank you letters is without a doubt a step in the positive direction. The following is a list of appropriate situations where it will benefit you to follow up with thank you letters or e-mails.
- Upon finishing an internship or summer job— Do not forget to show your appreciation for your job or internship opportunity. Demonstrate in the letter the unique skills you have acquired and how they will benefit you in your future. You may also want to comment on continuing your relationship with the company. These letters are best typed and sent by standard mail.
- After meeting company representatives at internship fairs— Make sure you reach out to your new contact with an e-mail thanking the representative for their time. This is also a chance to comment on your strong interest in the position you discussed. These letters are usually most appropriate when sent by e-mail.
- When networking at a conference, lecture series or an event— Once you leave the event and have a new stack of business cards, write down quick notes on the back of each card to remember what you discussed with each person. Send a follow up e-mail about your genuine interest in the conversation and appreciation for their time. When appropriate, you may want to suggest setting up a time to meet again.
- To professional and academic mentors—Your mentors are sometimes the people who dedicate the most time towards giving you career related advice. Do not just send these people a quick e-mail. Take the time to hand write a thoughtful letter that expresses your gratitude for their advising. It will make them happy to know that it has been both helpful and inspirational.
- After receiving career advice from family friends— These individuals are people that your family has personal relationships with and therefore definitely warrant a thank you letter. Send a family friend a thank you letter or e-mail telling them how their advice benefited you. You can also thank them for making the time to have the conversation. Also, many of these contacts appreciate being updated on your job or internship search. If they gave you advice for a particular internship, follow up with them and let them know the outcome, regardless of what it was.
I hope these tips have been helpful. Always make an extra effort to show gratitude! It will undoubtedly have a positive impact on you as both a professional and young adult.