Coffee Chats

By: S. David Ross

Anyone who knows me well realizes that I’m not a coffee drinker. I would much rather have a nice cup of tea. But in recent years, employers have offered coffee chats for prospective hires – in essence providing students with opportunities to meet firm representatives in a one-on-one setting. These coffee chats have increased in popularity as students clamor for the chance to have face time with professionals working at places of interest to them. I encourage job and internship seekers to incorporate a similar strategy into their search – consider arranging your own “coffee chat” for networking purposes.

Over time, changes in technology have made connecting with others from a distance much easier. This has led to several online resources that are commonly used during job and internship searches. You can find information through Google, browse LinkedIn profiles or search an alumni database to identify individuals to contact by phone or email. But why not arrange a time to meet briefly in person opposed to communicating electronically? While you may identify many people you would like to speak with that are far away or easier to connect with virtually, do not overlook any opportunity you may have to meet a local contact in person.

Coffee chats are great because they can be fairly brief opposed to a more formal meeting or lunch. Individuals may be more willing to meet with you in person if there is not a long time commitment. Coffee shops or other similar establishments have many locations so they can be very convenient venues. The relaxed atmosphere of a coffee shop may also be more conducive to holding a conversation which may put both parties at ease. If you do plan a coffee chat, come prepared with a handful of questions that focus on your interest in a particular company, industry or position. If you arrange a coffee chat with an alum, consider asking that person about their transition from college and what they found helpful during their time as an undergrad. Regardless of what you discuss, meeting with a contact during a coffee chat may provide you with valuable information or leads that are helpful in your search.

Author: David

David Ross is a Senior Associate Director of Career Services for Wharton undergraduates and occasional blogger for "Penn & Beyond."