Questions and Answers

Interviewing? Job Search? Soft Skills? International? Nerves? Networking?

INTERVIEWING

I am not confident I speak English well enough to be successful in a job interview. What Do I Do?

I will be attending an upcoming interview where I will be meeting with VP’s of the company.  I am really nervous to meet with VPs. What Do I Do?

What do I do if I get a job rejection?

What does the dress code Business Casual mean?

How To Follow Up After The Interview

Job Interview: Follow Up (2 Minute Video)

Why Didn't I Make It Past The First Interview?

INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CONCERNS

Where can I find advice about when I should apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)?

Where can I find advice about getting a Social Security Number?

Who Sponsors Visas?

What is the process to look for jobs in the US?

Should I list my Visa status on my resume?

What questions are illegal for an employer to ask?

Comprehensive guide for Understanding the Job Search for the International Student 

PRESENTATIONS

Can you provide an overview of how to create an effective presentation?

RESUME WRITING

8 Things You Need To Know About Applicant Tracking Systems

How Do I Make Room On My Resume For Soft Skills?

Should I use a Passive Resume Database so I don’t have to actively look for work?

The competition is quite stiff. How can I best compete with my resume and cover letter?

Do employers really want soft skills on the resume?

Although we haven't gotten our data for the MPS project, I am wondering whether I can put something about the project onto my resume. If yes, could you please give some examples about what I can talk about?

JOB SEARCH

I think many companies prefer students who have gained their undergrad degrees in America. To make up for this disadvantage and improve my chance for interview, what do you think I can do?

I aim to focus my job hunting next semester on two type of positions: risk management in financial industry and data analyst in technology companies. What kind of different strategies do you suggest for these two types? Thanks!

Years of Experience - Am I qualified?

What is an applicant tracking system (ATS) and how do I maximize my resume to stand out when I submit it through one of these systems? Do they use keyword search?

Where can I find additional information about searching for a UI-UX Career? 

NETWORKING

I think small talk is such a turn off and might be perceived as fake. Should I do it anyway?

Why Should I Network?  

What are the benefits of someone talking to me?

How do I develop a Network?

I am an Introvert and therefore do not network well. What tips can you provide?

Can you provide specific networking strategy tips? How do I initiate the conversation?

What questions can I ask with new acquaintances?

What is the difference between networking and information interviewing?

Reference Checking

Who should I choose for references? How do I format a reference sheet? How do I ask someone to be my reference? Choose the right person and the right format.

How do I ask someone to be a reference?

INTERVIEWING

I am not confident I speak English well enough to be successful in a job interview. What Do I Do?

It is indeed difficult and to get through an interview if you don’t communicate well.  

You may communicate better than you think but may lack the confidence to express yourself the way that you feel is proper. This happens to native English speakers as well as speakers where English is their second language.  One way to build confidence is to speak English whenever you are in class even though it is easier to talk with fellow classmates who have your same native language.  This will increase your communication skills a great deal in a short period of time. Another reason for speaking English in class is: when you speak a language other than English sometimes others feel like an outsider or do not understand what you are saying so they think you are talking about them. Sometimes they think this is rude.  This is especially important when you are at a networking event or info session with others who do not speak your language.

Another way is to practice verbalizing (out loud) answers to behavior questions. If you can practice with a friend this is helpful to see their feedback. You can practice with Optimal Interview available within Optimal Resume on Cornell Career’s website. You can even practice in a mirror, record yourself on your phone, or just practice speaking answers out loud to a blank wall. The first time you recite answers you will find it comes out clunky or not as smooth as you would like. It is important to repeat your answers until you can be fluid.

For additional resources on campus visit the ISSO webpage to see several programs that might be able to help you. ELSO Language Support Office (for graduate and professional students): http://cornellelso.weebly.com

http://isso.cornell.edu/life-cornell/practical-matters/english-programs

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Overcoming Nerves

I will be attending an upcoming interview where I will be meeting with VP’s of the company.  I am really nervous to meet with VPs. What Do I Do?

Sometimes titles can be intimidating and our brain tends to focus sometimes on negative thoughts.  Remember your strengths.  Most likely you are a brilliant, kind, and wonderful person besides being a technically talented.  You have many skills and you will be talking to people about what you know.  Understand it is normal to feel a little nervous. Even if I tell you to forget about the titles of the people you will be speaking to, your brain will want to tell me otherwise because it is normal to justify how important-seeming these people are.  Our brains says, “They are VPs for goodness sake!.” They have already selected you because of your stellar qualifications. These are people who want to see you succeed as much as you want to succeed. Remind yourself of this.

Please realize it is also normal for VPs to be involved in the hiring decisions even for entry-level folks.  Lots of times a company might want the hiring to be a team effort so that all levels agree on the fit of a candidate.  Think of it as a team.  Different members of the team can see different things in a candidate.  There may be a few rare cases where a hiring supervisor may not want to be blamed for a bad hire and at other times the VP doesn’t want the hiring manager to get credit for the good hires. A cohesive team involving all levels helps to ensure consensus regarding candidate selection.

Likewise, you will have the ability to hear different points of view from different people and also see how they interact with one another. This is a very positive atmosphere for interviewing.  You will really know when you are done if the company is also a good fit for you.   

Amy Cuddy has a Ted talk about overcoming nerves in interviews. 

Here is an article in a blog that offers a few additional points on overcoming job interview fears. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/overcome-job-interview-fears/

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What do I do if I get a job rejection?

See this article from Vault.com titled "What To Do If You Get A Rejection?"

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What does the dress code Business Casual mean?

Business Casual is business attire you are comfortable wearing. You might be most comfortable choosing something that is neither too dressy nor too casual. 

A male example: A pair of slacks and a nice shirt. Can be a dress shirt, sweater, or a polo shirt.  A suit and tie is not necessary but if you prefer to wear these it will be acceptable.  

A female example:  A pair of slacks and a nice shirt.  Can be a dress shirt, sweater, or a polo shirt.  A suit, skirt, or dress is not necessary but if you prefer to wear any of these it will be acceptable.  If you are planning to interview for a more business-professional position you may wish to bring a suit and tie. One website that might help you decide what to bring can be found at: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewattire/a/interviewdress.htm or Google keywords like, “Interview Attire”, for additional information.

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INTERNATIONAL STUDENT CONCERNS

Where can I find advice about when I should apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)?

Where can I find advice about getting a Social Security Number?

Cornell's International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) has many resources specifically for International Students. Be sure to check out their resources as they relate to working in the US. The process for applying for OPT, CPT, and obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN) can be found here. Visas After Graduation http://isso.cornell.edu/students/working-us/visas-after-graduation.  Please also discuss your work authorization needs with an immigration advisor at ISSO because many things can affect it such as your current visa type, your citizenship, and your discipline of study.  http://isso.cornell.edu/students/working-us Information about taxes can be found here http://isso.cornell.edu/financial/taxes

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Who Sponsors Visas?

Cornell students: http://www.career.cornell.edu/students/upload/InternationalStudentJobsxlsx.xlsx

H1B databases:

http://foreign-employment.findthedata.com

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What is the process to look for jobs in the US?

http://www.career.cornell.edu/students/upload/Intl-Curriculum-2014-Links.pdf

US Job-Search Tips in CCS Media Library addresses common challenges and troubleshooting approaches:

http://www.career.cornell.edu/career/customcf/iws_media_library/uploads/isso_job_spring2015_01_21_2015.pdf

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Should I list my Visa status on my resume?

Do not include your visa status on your resume. 

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What questions are illegal for an employer to ask?

What is your visa type, nationality, place of birth, date of birth, which country are you a citizen, what is your native language or, what language do you most often speak?

An employer MAY ask: Are you legally authorized to work in the United States, will you now or in the future require sponsorship for an employment visa, or which languages do you read, speak or write? (if foreign language skills are job related)

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PRESENTATIONS

Can you provide an overview of how to create an effective presentation?

The link below is from AMSTAT (American Statistical Association). “Guidelines for Preparing Effective Presentations”.  It applies across many industries and majors.

https://ww2.amstat.org/meetings/csp/2015/guidelines.cfm

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RESUME WRITING

How Do I Make Room On My Resume For Soft Skills?

The available real estate on a one page resume is a big issue for some people.  Write out the whole story and then keep editing to make it as terse as possible. Sometimes if you rearrange the sentence while adding just a word or two it will more clearly describe your skills, other times you need to add an entire bullet. Sometimes a different bullet will need to be removed to make space. Which bullet point to remove will depend on the job description you are sending it to. This is one reason a resume needs to be tailored for each job description. It takes time but is worth the effort.

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Should I use a Passive Resume Database so I don’t have to actively look for work?

Passive Resume Databases are often used where you might upload your resume and companies will be able to look for resumes where they have open positions. Sometimes these are useful but only if your resume reflects what you are looking to do and only if the company choses to search for candidates in this manner. 

There are certain filters in this type of database that a resume may need to pass in order to be noticed.  There are some people who may try to tell you they will critique or revise your resume in order to pass this filter.  Be wary of paying for services such as this as they may not be as useful as they seem.

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The competition is quite stiff. How can I best compete with my resume and cover letter?

Try to be as specific as possible when aligning your skills with those in the job description.

Your resume may be nice but you may want to include just a bit more information according to what the employer is looking for.  If the employer is looking for someone who can merge data sets and you have merged data sets (tell what types you have merged public, structured, unstructured and how you have done it (what programs did you use) Did you analyzed large data sets (tell how large and how you analyzed them.  Remember to include quantitative information.

You mention you developed tableau dashboards using multiple data sources to detect spot rates deviations.  Were the dashboards automated? Were they insightful? How? What types of data sources? Were they aggregated?

The job description states you will clean, manipulate, and analyze large data sets to create insightful reports. You may want to mention that you have cleaned and manipulated data and perhaps even tell how. What model did you use to choose the key variables?

The job description states several times that they are looking for someone who is insightful (if I was the employer I would want you to tell me how you are insightful or can solve complex business problems or how you have used your skills to leverage data and analysis to generate business impacts.  What were the impacts you made or the insightful answers to the complex business questions that you discovered.  For example: On  your resume you benchmarked 4 rail networks in Japan in terms of technical, financial, and ridership parameters in 3 days.  Can you tell just a little bit more so if I’m the employer I know how you did it and why it was insightful or what the impact was to the business.

The competition is quite stiff so it is better to be specific in terms of aligning your skills according to what the employer is looking for.

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Do employers really want soft skills on the resume?

It is difficult to say what all employers want but sometimes if the job description mentions specific soft skills over and over it is a good idea to add your related strengths to your resume.

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Although we haven't gotten our data for the MPS project, I am wondering whether I can put something about the project onto my resume. If yes, could you please give some examples about what I can talk about?

Yes. You should put your project on your resume.  It is a good idea to always look to the job description for the job you are going to apply for to see which of your skills should be put on your resume.  Recently I sent an email regarding putting project experience on resumes and I will cut and paste it below for you as well.  If you are not able to use the name of the client you are working with then you can use a description as in the example below or you could use a title similar like Course Project or MPS Team Project or something like this. 

As far as examples of what to ad again, look to the job description as it matches your experience.  You can see this a bit in the example below but you don’t see the job description. If for example the job description says they are looking for someone to do machine learning using random forest and you did this in the project then I would list it. If they are looking for client interactions or client focus then tell how you communicated with clients and what you accomplished.  Some people don’t think this should go on the resume but if you can closely match your skills to what the employer is looking for it gives you an edge over the competition.  If the job description is looking for teamwork, tell how you work with the members of the team. If the job description is looking for cross functional team work, meet deadlines, and quality tell how you communicated with each of the member of the team and tell what they did. “Communicated with people working on different areas of the project such as data cleaner, coder, client, to understand their perspectives, set project milestones, iterate, and meet deadlines without allowing quality to suffer.”  If in fact this is what happened on your project. You will need to write what you did.  In the resume it is important to say this is a team project which can be a bullet point or can be in the title. Then in the rest of the bullet points ensure that you are talking about what part of the project you did or what you learned or could accomplish on your own if you did not do it.   In the bullet points I would not use the word I or we.

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JOB SEARCH

I think many companies prefer students who have gained their undergrad degrees in America. To make up for this disadvantage and improve my chance for interview, what do you think I can do?

It is true that some companies prefer US Citizens.  Some companies may indeed have a preference for those who have gotten their undergrad degrees in the US but sometimes companies who are willing to sponsor International Visas are looking for the person who best fits the qualifications of the position. Some companies are very interested in your particular skills despite where you did your undergrad.  Although, it may or may not be a disadvantage, the best way to improve your chance for an interview is to allow your skills as they meet the job description needs to shine through on your resume and to apply for as many positions as you can with an updated resume.  Do not simply apply for lots of positions the easy way by using the same resume for all positions or by hitting the “apply now” with your profile button because they are not usually targeted specifically for a particular job description.  When you apply for “many” positions these should be quality resumes targeted for a specific job.  You could use the “apply now” button IF you have updated your profile to closely match the position ahead of time. The other way you truly stand out is in the interview.

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I aim to focus my job hunting next semester on two type of positions: risk management in financial industry, and data analyst in technology companies. The typical job descriptions are below. What kind of different strategies do you suggest for these two types? Thanks!

What did you find they are looking for when reading the Risk Management job description? It is important to read the entire job description to understand what they are looking for in addition to the required qualifications, education, and technical skills. It is obvious to include these on your resume. In order to be more competitive for some positions such as these you will need to ensure your other skills are included where appropriate. In one Risk Management job description I found they were looking for someone who: focuses on and can produce high quality, can explain in a way that is quickly understandable, reliable and usable by senior management. They want someone to increase efficiency by contributing and supporting the design and change of scenario definition, calculation, and reporting processes. Someone who is comfortable with large amounts of data, supports management, addresses stakeholder needs. They mention the ability to explain results as well as producing and providing reports and analysis.

So… If I were a recruiter or hiring manager for this company I would be asking as I read your resume, “Does this candidate possess the skills for this position as described in the job description?”

In order to be competitive, you will need to add to your past experience, some bullet points to include skills the job description is asking for, where you possess them.  Sometimes you will find someone that mentions that soft skills are not necessary in a resume but for most positions it will be necessary to include them if they are seeking them in the job description.

Ask yourself questions based on what qualities and skills the company is seeking as is written in the job description.

If the company is looking for someone who can increase efficiency. Ask  yourself if there has been a time where you were able to increase efficiency? If on your resume you say you have you have reduced 40% processing time. (I would change the wording of this so it reads a little stronger and ensure it is clear – Reduced processing time by 40%...)

Have you ever created a high quality report?  If your resume states, “Generated 10 reports by creating views and using update, inner join, group by…”  Can you mention if the report was high quality, did you make the report understandable? If so, how?  Did you visualize results?  If so, how did you do this? Did it make it understandable?  Can you change the statement around or add descriptors to it to better show the company that you have the skills they are looking for?

If they are looking to see how you can explain to others that is quickly understandable. Have you done this? If so, include it.

If collaborating effectively with colleagues in a professional manner is also important because it is listed in the job description, add bullet points that talk about your teamwork and ability to collaborate with teammates. Not, “Collaborated with teammates” Tell HOW you collaborate with teammates.

If the job description is looking for the following, ask yourself if you have any exposure to the stress market risk scenarios, reporting analysis, stress testing, or regulatory reporting like CCAR PRA FINMA? Or Equity/Rates/FX/Commodity products risk dynamics, financial market risk concepts and theory?  Are you knowledgeable about what they mean?    If you know about any of these mention them on your resume.  If not, you may want to find out about them.

They often use the words quality, detail oriented and exacting? Where you have done something where you have had to pay attention to a level of detail or level of quality I would include this somewhere.

If you mention you presented the project in a high-level meeting including partners as a proposal for future investment you may want to tell HOW you presented or HOW you made sure it was understandable to the audience as well.

How big was the data set you mentioned? If you mention is was a time series over 46 year but also tell how many terabytes or how many data points? If you mentioned you“Tested stationarity assumption of the time-series data of monthly log CPI over 46 years” or "Forecast 120 months ahead based on ARIMA model and visualized the results". Tell HOW or WHY and how this made it able to be communicated if that is what the job description is looking for.

What do you see they are looking for in the job description? The first things you might find are: understand users point of view, collaborate cross functionally, combined technical, sales, and customer service acumen, big picture thinker, strategic leader.  You don’t have to match point for point what is on the job description with what is on your resume, but you should include those skills you possess where the job description is also looking for them.  This often means updating your job description for each position. 

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Years of Experience - Am I qualified?

The job description's qualifications require 3-5 years of experience. Unless the job description specifically states you need or must have certain experience in the field or in a certain industry or in production and the rest of the job description contains skills you have you should apply and let the employer screen you out..  There are some employers who will not look at your resume unless you have 3 full years of experience and there are other employers who say that the 3-5 years of experience is ideal but would accept someone who was a fit for the position and met most of the other qualifications.

You may feel tempted to not apply or feel you are not qualified just because you don’t have any “real-world” experience. If you meet most of the other skills in the position you should apply.

There are employers such as the US government who will often state that a person would need a bachelor degree for a position or 4 years of experience in lieu of the degree. There are some employers who may also follow this strategy and believe that a bachelor degree would equate to 4 years of experience. We don’t know which employers follow this strategy and which ones do not.  Sometimes you can get clues from reading the entire job description. Use your best judgement and let the employer screen you out.

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What is an applicant tracking system (ATS) and how do I maximize my resume to stand out when I submit it through one of these systems? Do they use keyword search?

This is an article about applicant tracking systems highlights what you need to know to help your resume to stand out when you submit it to an applicant tracking system. It tells you what an applicant tracking system is, how it works, and mentions several of the popular ones. 

It is another reason to support tailoring your resume to each job you apply for and provides helpful tips.

https://www.jobscan.co/applicant-tracking-systems?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=comment&utm_campaign=comment-applicant-tracking-systems-2016-12-08&utm_content=page

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Where can I find additional information about a UI-UX job search?

Below are some book recommendations from a previous student. All books are short

Power Ties: The International Student's Guide to Finding a Job in the United States. It has excellent job searching tips that I would recommend to domestic students as well.

Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability. From the one of the most well known usability researcher Steve Krug

It's a great book for students who are interested in UX research

It's Our Research: Getting Stakeholder Buy-in for User Experience Research Projects

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

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NETWORKING

I think small talk is such a turn off and might be perceived as fake. Should I do it anyway?

Small talk breaks the ice. While some cringe at the thought of engaging in small talk it is effective.  Approaches you can take are: 1. Figure out what you could ask someone that you would be genuinely be interested in. Listen to the individual. Pick up clues of something where you have a mutual interest. Look around their office is there a photo or piece of art or something you are also interested in. 2. Ask questions that get people to talk about themselves. People like to talk about themselves. 3. Try to be natural and honest. 4. Find out what they might need. What skill do you have that might help them.

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Why Should I Network?  

You can gather sound career advice by networking to help you explore and clarify your career path. You can learn more about a company, an industry, or trends, inside facts, the organizational culture, and what employers are looking for in successful job seekers. 

You may receive referrals to other professionals and resources. It is appropriate to ask if your contact knows someone who might be able to answer your questions or someone else who might help you gain additional insight.

Networking is an oppotunity for others to learn from  you.

Sometimes you can uncover unpublished job openings or potential future opportunities. 

I don't want to bother people and I am afraid they will be annoyed if I ask for help.

The key to contacting people is in the approach.  Act professional, be conscious of their time, be careful not to monopolize but mostly listen by asking open-ended questions about them, their likes, their career, and possibly their needs.  Often there may be way to might be able to help them with their needs. It is important to not ask for favors, do not assume anything and do not ask for a job or begin a conversation asking about job opportunities.

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What are the benefits of someone talking to me?

People like to talk about themselves and their work. They might have an open position they need to fill. Alumni enjoy staying connected to Cornell and their program. They gain satisfaction from helping and giving advice. They may want to expand their network too. You are valuable to them and their network (they may need something that you mgiht be able to thelp them with).

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How do I develop a Network?

Start with those you know such as your family and friends, professors, teachers, classmates, alumni, undergrad alumni, join clubs, and activities. Reach out to companies, attend info sessions, previous employers, career fairs, do information interviews, social media such as LinkedIn or Meetups, and through professional associations and organizations. Then begin strategizing how to connect withthose you don't know yet. 

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I am an Introvert and therefore do not network well. What tips can you provide?

An introvert gets their energy from time spent alone or with few people. An extrovert gets their energy from being around many people. Most people are a combination of both and some people are sometimes more introvert and sometimes more extrovert. You do not need to be an extrovert to be good at networking. You do need to learn how to create effective, meaningful relationships. If you know you are an introvert or are shy there is lots of advice out there (the links above on networking for introverts has some wonderful tips). Some extroverts are shy but cover it well. If you are shy look at some of the tips on interview confidence building as these may be helpful to you as well. Know that it does get easier with practice and experience. You do not have to have a huge network to do it well. You do not need to attend a speed networking event to network. Networking is about creating meaningful relationships and you may be able to do this one at a time while doing things you enjoy. Focus on what you are good at in setting you are comfortable in. 

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Can you provide specific networking strategy tips? How do I initiate the conversation?

Start with "Hello" and then some: smile, keep it a short conversation. Flattering words do not hurt. Find commonality and seek mutual benefits by asking questions. Remember the goal is to cultivate a sincere connection which may lead to a meaningful relationship which may lead to mutual benefits. Focus on the person you are with and stay in touch. 

Don't expect to get a referral or a job offer immediately. Building trusting relationship takes time. See Vault.com for lots of Networking tips. Sign in at the Johnson Library site here your Cornell Net ID if you have not yet done so. 

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What questions can I ask with new acquaintances?

First, break the ice by extending a genuine compliment, ask genuine open-ended questions. If you know a person is a classmate or alumnus you may want to ask what made them decide to major in x. If you knwo a person works in an area you are interested in you may want to ask what made them decide to join y company. If you know where the person works you may want to ak them how they got their job or if they have any advice for courses you may want to take to better position yourself for a role in their company eventually.  You could ask if they netowrked formally and how they did it. You could ask what they like about what they do. If you can think of a specific question which won't take much of their time this might be helpful to them. Provide them with enough background about yourself so they can best answer your question(s). Check the links above for additional advice and questions. 

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What is the difference between networking and information interviewing?

Networking is the overall process of meeting people, building relationships, and asking questions to build rapport.

Informational interviewing is a piece of the networking process. It is a planned and prepared approach to gain career or job fit information.  See the section on informational interviewing for additional actions you can take and questions you can ask.

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Reference Checking

Who should I choose for references? How do I format a reference sheet? How do I ask someone to be my reference? Choose the right person and the right format.

The best candidates to be references are usually defined by what the employer asks for so please read carefully about the type of request. Do they want personal references, work references, past supervisors, professors, or do they not specify?

If they do not specify, consider asking someone who can speak well about your skills as they related to the position opening. 

Always ask people if they would be willing to be a reference for you before you list them on a reference sheet. It is nice to also send a copy of the job description and remind the person about the skills that you have that relate to the position so they can provide the best reference.  Make it easy for them. Here is a link to one resource. http://jobsearch.about.com/od/gettingreferences/qt/who-to-ask-reference.htm

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How to ask someone to be a reference https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-right-and-wrong-way-to-ask-someone-to-be-a-reference

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