This is part 1 of 2 of my cold emailing series. Check out the next post for A step-by-step guide to successful cold emails.
You remember high school right? It was a stressful time for everyone. The unhealthy pressure to get straight A’s, a 2400 on the SATs, play a varsity sport, be a nationally ranked musician, win a debate competition, cure cancer… all to get admission to college.
I was far from that. My GPA wasn’t great, I didn’t play any sports, and I wasn’t a good enough musician. Despite these shortcomings, I always had a knack for business-related things.
In elementary school, I sold 1 rupee coins (valued at 1–2 cents) in handmade paper packages for $1 each.
In middle school, I became obsessed with this online game called Runescape because I loved figuring out how to make a lot of money.
In high school, I participated in business plan competitions through an organization called DECA, and made it to the International level.
I loved this kind of stuff, but knew it wasn’t enough. I wanted to learn more about business and improve the odds of getting into a good college.
But how could I get started? I didn’t know anyone in the business world. I didn’t have any marketable skills.
It was frustrating that business was such a vague concept and seemed impossible to get real experience before college.
I noticed that my friends interested in engineering learned how to code and build their own apps. Others interested in medicine volunteered at the hospital and helped set up experiments for researchers at prestigious institutions.
After some reflecting, I decided maybe I could help a university professor with their research. But unlike many of my friends, I had no idea what kind of research I could help with and had no connections to any business professors.
I didn’t let that stop me — I was determined to help a professor with their business research
After some quick Googling, I found a list of business professors at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business — along with all of their emails. I was onto something, and it was exciting.
I wrote a short email introducing myself as an eager high school student interested in learning more about business and helping with research over the coming summer. I then sent this email off to 50 college professors with minor customized changes for each one.
The next day, I got 4 responses.
3 thanked me for the interest but did not have a summer research position.
1 said there may be an opportunity to work together.
After a few more emails and chats, it was settled — I was going to help her build the curriculum for a Haas MBA class in Supply Chain Management.
I went from having no connections in business to landing an internship with an MBA professor in the span of 2 weeks.
This was the start of a deep appreciation for the power of sending cold emails.
Why is cold emailing important?
Cold emailing allows anyone, virtually regardless of background, the opportunity to get in touch with anyone else in the professional world. In a world deeply dependant on nepotism, it is the single most powerful tool to level the playing field of opportunity. Cold emailing enables you to build your professional network as large as you want and compete for the most exclusive career opportunities — depending on your willingness to put in the work.
You can use cold emailing for many things including:
- Talk to graduate students about the tradeoffs of further education
- Explore different career interests
- Talk to people with similar hobbies
- Get that dream internship
The list is endless — cold emailing lets you talk to anyone about anything.
Each dart you throw at the board is an opportunity to hit the center — and each cold email you send is an opportunity to change your life.
Sending cold emails is genuinely exciting — you never know where the opportunity might take you.
Along with the hypothesis-driven career, cold emailing is the most important tool to learn as early as possible in college.
What exactly is cold emailing and why does it work?
Cold emailing is when you send an email to someone you have never met and you ask them for something. That “something” can be to clarify a few questions, chat on the phone, meet for coffee… even consider you for an internship.
It sounds crazy right? Why would anyone do you a favor when they don’t know you?
In my experience, the value you provide by asking someone to chat with you about their career is validation. People love to help others — it empowers them and makes them feel good.
Many professionals are willing to give you career advice if it means potentially making an impact on your future. Don’t feel bad for emailing them!
In my next post I will walk you through my process of finding professionals and cold emailing. This is broken down into 4 key topics:
Where do I find professionals to cold email?
How do I write a strong cold email?
What are the 3 key drivers for successful cold emails?
How do I keep track of all my emails and get the most out of each one?
This process is the first thing I teach my friends in helping them kickstart their careers. It works for freshmen and seniors alike.
All 5 of my internships in college were the result — in large part — to cold emailing.
- Trumaker: I cold emailed a guy about my interest in clothing and technology. After a brief chat in the office, he offered me an internship to help with marketing and strategy
- Morgan Stanley: I cold emailed a husband-wife team about my interest in finance. After 3 meetings, we decided to work on a unique project that involved some programming
- Peek.com: I cold emailed an ex-Bain consultant to learn more about his transition from management consulting to startups. He ended up giving me a sales strategy internship because of our conversation and my persistence
- Levi’s: I cold emailed an MBA graduate from my undergrad business program to learn more about a strategy internship. I ended up getting an interview with that same person
- Disney: I cold emailed a few analysts on the corporate strategy & mergers and acquisitions team and kept in touch throughout college. By the time I was eligible for the internship, I had a strong relationship with a few of the team members and got an interview
I would not have had any of these internship opportunities if I didn’t learn to cold email. It’s that simple.
The earlier you start, the better. So click here for the step-by-step guide on how to cold email successfully.