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How one Concordia student landed an internship by going viral on LinkedIn

Kosta Kounadis shares his job-search journey and what he learned along the way
July 14, 2021
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By Kosta Kounadis

Young man sitting at a desk with a computer and a number of books and papers After describing his job-search woes online, Kosta Kounadis was inundated with advice — and opportunities.

Kosta Kounadis is a third-year Concordia student in economics and English literature.

I’ve been rejected everywhere.

This year, I applied to more than 50 summer internship positions:

  • 32 unanswered inquiries
  • 15 rejection emails
  • Three interviews
  • One follow-up
  • Zero offers

I thought I was doing everything right: writing personalized cover letters, including SEO keywords in my resumé, refining my LinkedIn page, preparing for interviews and cold-emailing employers.

Friends suggested my resumé was uninspiring. So, I created a website showcasing my abilities.

I shared my job-search woes in a post to my LinkedIn feed. Two weeks later, it had more than 100,000 views.

Screenshot-of-post-analytics-2-weeks-in-768

Hundreds of individuals across the world contacted me with advice, and I was offered dozens of internships from some of the biggest companies in Canada to some of the most exciting startups out there. Ultimately, I chose to work as a marketing and growth intern at Botpress, a company headquartered in Quebec that develops an open-source platform for building chatbots.

More importantly, as my post gained traction, I started getting private messages from many Concordia students who’d been through this in the past or were currently struggling.

Many said my post made them feel less alone and that it inspired them to keep looking and think of new ways to approach the job search. I quickly realized that my story was bigger than me, as my openness to share my rejections helped others feel less alone and more connected to others facing the same challenges.

Here are some of the tips I received:

1. Connections are everything

Most jobs are filled through personal referrals and internal hiring. Oftentimes, job postings are just a formality. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to every company and situation, but it can often feel like you’re wasting your time completing forms, writing cover letters and sending them into the void.

Based on the advice I got, if you have no connections and none of your referrals can help you, you could apply to 100 to 200 places with the expectation that 97 per cent of employers will not even reach out for an interview. Or you have to find a way to contact people through cold emails or creating content that ends up on a recruiter’s social media feed. Obviously the latter requires more serendipity, but it’s worth a shot. It worked for me!

A page with two columns with conflicting advice in each column. The advice Kounadis received was often contradictory. Photo credit: The Happiness Equation by Neil Parischa

2. Offer a solution to whatever problem recruiters are facing

Don’t initially ask for what you want — provide value, then ask. Sometimes a recruiter is looking to fill a position that has nothing to do with your experience, but you may have a friend who is a specialist in that area. Send an email referring your friend and wish them a good day.

In the future, they might reach out to you if they are looking for whatever skill you can bring to the table. If not, at least you have a point of contact when the right position opens up.

3. Don’t take no for an answer

A Concordia grad and former career counsellor suggested I write to the marketing VP of every company I had contacted. Tell them you’re following up on a missed opportunity, after applying without success through their usual channels.

Then say something like, “You have the experience in the field I want a career in and, although it’s a lot to ask of a stranger with a busy schedule, I would appreciate if you could take 10 minutes to have a look at my resumé and offer advice on how to get my foot in the door.”

Then close by promising to pay it forward once you have an established career.

4. People are nicer than you think

Many people who reached out just wanted to give me advice because they related to my post. And sometimes the most unexpected person will reply to your message because they just want to help.

Send that email. Just because the chances of getting a response are small, that does not mean you shouldn’t try.

5. Don’t take just any advice

The amount of advice I got from people was appreciated but a lot contradicted each other.

For example, one person told me my resumé was formatted the wrong way, while another told me that it looked original and did not require any changes. One individual told me my website was too personal, while someone else said they liked how down-to-earth it was.

There were moments where I felt like people’s advice created more doubt than clarity. That’s when I realized that no advice necessarily applies to every person.

6. Show your worth

You can be the most qualified engineer or the most creative graphic designer around, but if nobody knows about you, it’s as if you never existed. That is why I now actively put myself out there if I want people to notice me — I have to show my worth. Otherwise, no one will ever know what I can offer.


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Concordia’s Faculty of Arts and Science.

For help developing the skills you need to successfully transition from university into the workplace, check out Concordia's FutureBound program

Looking for some job-search inspiration? Check out Kosta Kounadis’s website.

 

 



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