Alyssa J Freitas

July 18, 2018

How To Have A Great Informational Interview

We constantly hear that it is essential to network outside of our current company and to learn more about other industries and roles. Some refer to this type of networking as an "informational interview" and while it can certainly take on that formal tone, it doesn't have to. Just by having a curiosity to understand more about how others have built their careers and to build relationships, you can network externally in a more informal manner.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Do you want to expand your professional network and learn more about different industries and roles? Informational interviews are the perfect way to get a taste. Learn how to reach out to and conduct an informational interview with the right professionals
While this advice is shared often, we're not exactly told how to take the first step in connecting with others. Today, I'm going to share with you how to take that first step and tell you about the effective methods I've recently employed.

First, figure out what you hope to give and get

Are you looking to join a particular company? Transition to a specific role? Or broaden your network in general? Figuring out your purpose of connecting (and being able to express it clearly and succinctly) will help you to identify the right people and easily explain why you want to meet. Remember, while it may be a learning experience for you at the onset, it is important to figure out how you can add value for others and make the experience worth their while.

Identify the right people

I don't know what people did before LinkedIn (check out my three part series on LinkedIn here, here, and here). Asked around for recommendations and hoped to get lucky, I guess. Recommendations are a great way to meet others, but if you don't have a large pool, LinkedIn is perfect. With LinkedIn it is incredible how many people you can find and quickly determine if they are someone you'd like to hear more about. Based on what you hope to give and get, you can tailor your search. 

I like to try and find a commonality with the person I am reaching out to, so I start by looking at my 2nd degree connections (you have a mutual connection who can introduce you), people who I am in a LinkedIn group with, or people who went to my college. For example, if you're part of a professional club, join the LinkedIn group so you learn about members who you may have not met in person. 

When it comes to your school and connection degrees, you can used advanced search by clicking the search bar, clicking on "people," and then using filters.

Send a message

The message you send should be short, to the point, and easy to respond to. If you're reaching out on LinkedIn, you can send a connection request with a line like:
Hi Jane, I'm a fellow Women's Finance Club member and am starting out my career in the banking industry. It would be great to connect and introduce ourselves!
 Once they connect with you, you can send a direct message with a more specific ask:
Hi Jane, thanks for connecting! Your profile caught my eye because of your work with xyz- it would be great to introduce ourselves and to ask you about the start of your career in the banking industry. Please let me know if you have time for a brief phone call this coming week. Thanks!
If they are in the same city as you, you can also ask for an in person meeting by offering to buy them a coffee.

The actual meeting/call

When you first sit down with the person, thank them for joining you and tell them the purpose of the meeting. For example:
Thank you for meeting with me today, I really appreciate it! I'd like to ask you about your career and learn what advice you have for someone who is starting. I know there are many different paths available, and I am looking forward to hearing your perspective. 
Then you can let the conversation flow and have some prepared questions to facilitate the discussion. I love these suggestions from Career Contessa. Having categories of questions will keep you on track (example: early career, best strategic decisions they made, day-in-the-life) and you won't feel like you're running through a list and drilling them.

A question I would make sure to ask is "Is there anyone else you would suggest I reach out to to continue learning more about what we discussed." This is a great way to get a referral and continue to expand your network. It's also good to have a clear follow up action for after the meeting.

After the meeting/call

Of course you'll thank them in person or on the phone at the end of your meeting, but the follow up after that is even more important. Send a message like:
Hi Jane, thanks for meeting with me today! It was great talking with you and I appreciate your advice. I look forward to keeping in touch and meeting with xyz as you suggested. Please feel free to use this email address to make the introduction. Have a great weekend! 
Then you can set a reminder to follow up with them a few months down the road to check in and keep the relationship going. Send them an article relevant to what you talked about, or invite them to an event your attending, or just say hello and ask them how the project is going that they told you about. 

What are your best methods for reaching out to others? How do you seek out mentoring conversations?


July 11, 2018

What To Read This Summer

As a kid I remember the library hosting reading challenges every summer. You'd fill out your list, win prizes, and hopefully not lose too much of your brain power over the school break. Working full time and being an adult means there isn't really a great amount of difference in free time each season, but there is something about summer that makes me want to read more books, faster. Here are the books I've read recently and what's on my list. Let's be friends on Goodreads so we can get recommendations from each other!
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Looking for some summer reading inspiration? Look no further. Here are the top books to pick up

What I've Read

London by Edward Rutherfurd
This was an epic book (all his books are sagas). All of Rutherfurd's stories follow families in a certain city/country for generations and it was interesting to learn more about how London has developed over the years. Now I am anxiously awaiting the publication of his next book, China.  

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty 
After I read a Rutherfurd book, I always need a quick, easy read to clean my palate - enter, What Alice Forgot. This book tells the story of a woman who gets a head injury and thinks it's a decade earlier, forgetting her divorce, change of friends, and even her children. It was the book I needed, when I needed it.

The Vatican Princess by C.W. Gortner
Nope. Not for me. I had high hopes because I love historical fiction and am interested in the life of Lucrezia Borgia. However, the book fell far short of expectations and actually inspired me to create a new rule for myself - I will not read any book that gets less than a 4 star rating on Goodreads. It's just not worth it, especially because I'm the type of person who has to finish a book once I start it. Can't afford to put myself in that position again!

Photo Credit: Ally Marcino

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Ok, now we're talking. This was a beautifully written book (definitely could use some pacing work, and probably could have ended a hundred pages sooner) and it had been on my list for a while so I was glad to finally get to it. The story follows college students who find themselves in a series of issues, including murder, alcoholism, near death by freezing, you know, the usual college stuff, and is done in the best way possible.  

Originals by Adam Grant
Here comes the non-fiction. Grant presents ways to have creative, and original ideas, and how your environment and childhood influences you. If you want to harness your creativity and learn how best to present your ideas, this is a quick read that will give you great tips and make you think.

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray
I do not like Thomas Jefferson. Before reading this book I would have said I hated the man (there's far too many reasons to get into now). Even though you absolutely must take historical fiction at its word of being fiction, this book humanized Jefferson for me and I have a greater appreciation for the sacrifices of the founding fathers. 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
This is the first dystopian book I've picked up in a while. A great flu sweeps over the earth, killing more than 90% of the population. We follow those who survived and go back in time to learn more about the world and people who were left behind. With short chapters, I was able to fly through this book.
Photo Credit: Ally Marcino

What I want to read

Here are the goal books for the rest of the summer:
  • My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
What have you read recently? What's on your list for the summer? I'd love to hear your recommendations!


July 4, 2018

July 4th Or 2nd...

Happy Independence Day! I try to always make sure I say "independence day" rather than "4th of July." Why, you ask? It comes back to John Adams (as most of my historical opinions do).
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Ever wondered why we celebrate independence day on July 4th? Well, maybe it's meant to be July 2nd...find out why!
On July 2nd, 1776 the delegates of the Continental Congress approved the motion for independence for the 13 colonies to separate from Great Britain. And most everyone was pumped (and also a little scared and confused, because what exactly would this mean).

My guy John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, "The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."

Today we do celebrate independence with parades and games, and bonfires, and all that jazz...but we do it on July 4th. Why?

The committee of 5 assigned to writing the Declaration (Adams, Franklin, Sherman, Livingston, and Jefferson) put forth the document on July 2nd, but the congress did not approve it until July 4th - hence why the finalized version reads "In Congress, July 4, 1776."

The Declaration was then read in public for the first time on July 8th (though it had been printed in the evening of July 4th and distributed) and Washington shared the news with his troops on July 9th.

While I always want my John to be right, he was slightly off on this one. We've adopted July 4th as the anniversary of our independence and I also celebrate the end of a legacy on this day - John died on July 4th, 1826.

How are you going to be celebrating Independence Day this year? 


June 27, 2018

Summer Bucket List

Hooray for the start of summer! Although there wasn't much of a sweet spring to prepare us ("October is the new spring" - my observant friend), I'm ready to jump into the season. Although I've worked every summer since I was 16, this is my first summer that doesn't include a break from school, so I thought it would be good to put together a bucket list to ensure I'm making the most of these summer weekends. Hopefully you can grab some ideas yourself for your own summer bucket list.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! Now that summer it here, it's the perfect time to make a bucket list. Check out my list for inspiration

Walk or bike the Brooklyn Bridge

Go strawberry picking

Have a picnic (or a few)

Make s'mores

Go to an outdoor concert

Take a boat ride (can't get enough of the boats)

Go on a weekend getaway 


What's on your summer bucket list? Would love some more inspiration!


June 20, 2018

What To Spend Your Downtime Consuming

There is so. much. content out there for us to consume. From never ending Pinterest feeds, to newsletters, to shows, we are constantly inundated with something to read or watch or listen to. Two years ago I wrote a post about how to consume media consciously. While my minimalist mindset did a lot to inform that post, I didn't talk much about my own method of determining what is worthwhile to spend my time on.
Click to read now or pin to save for later! With only so much downtime, it's important to make the most of it! Here's how to make sure you're consuming the best of the best
Here are a two ways you can figure out what is worth allocating your limited time to:

Explore based on recommendations

It's far too easy to just jump out into the vast internet and libraries of the world to search for your next book or article or piece of entertainment. Instead, try working off of recommendations. Did a blogger you love just write about her favorite accounts to follow on Instagram? Did your friend rave to you about a podcast she can't stop listening to? Chances are, if you're already friends with or following someone they'll be able to point you in the right direction of what to check out next.

Reviews, reviews, reviews

I've instituted a new rule for myself that I am LOVING: Only read books that get a 4 star and above rating on Goodreads. After recently reading a bad book (once I start a book, I'm committed even if I'm not enjoying it, which is probably a blog post and self-examination for another day), I decided I needed a way to avoid that in the future. This threshold rule of 4 stars is a great way to ensure that I'm reading quality books. Maybe you can look at Rotten Tomatoes first if you love to watch movies, or statistics on Netflix to keep yourself enjoying the best of the best.

How do you figure out what to read or watch next? How do you stay inspired with new things to read and watch coming at you from every angle? Any advice is much appreciated!