After he applied to a few companies for internships and was rejected, SC&I senior and communication major Joseph Rosenberg decided to try something that seemed daring: he sent individual cold emails to about 30 large consumer food & beverage companies matching his interest in restaurant tech and consumer packaged goods.
Cold emails derive their name from the “cold call” - they are unsolicited emails sent to hiring managers whom the sender has never met or approached in any other way.
How it works is, an applicant sends an email directly to a hiring manager at the company the sender is interested in working for. The cold email should state the sender’s interest, passion for the company, and what the applicant can bring to the job - the qualities, skills, or experiences that address the company’s needs. Cold emails should be short and informative, but also be interesting and different to successfully attract the company’s attention.
Out of the 30 cold emails Rosenberg sent, he only received two responses back. However, one of those responses changed the trajectory of his career.
This email came from Slice, a leading online ordering platform that powers over 13,000 small business pizza restaurants across the country. The hiring manager at Slice told him they were extremely intrigued by his email, in which Rosenberg had introduced himself, described his past job experience, and explained the ways he could leverage the large community he had built as a Rutgers student to be able to deliver value to Slice.
Following the hiring manager’s email, Rosenberg received a call from Slice’s marketing team, inviting him to pitch his vision about a co-marketing effort between Slice and Rutgers. As a college sophomore, Rosenberg successfully presented his business idea to the Slice executive team. He received an email a few weeks later letting him know that Slice wanted to go through with his plan.
Without having either a formal internship or a job at Slice, Rosenberg put his plan into action: he ran a brand campaign and activation at Rutgers offering students the chance to obtain a free slice of pizza in exchange for a Slice app download. Following Rosenberg’s marketing campaign, Slice saw a large spike in app downloads at Rutgers and in the New Brunswick area, indicating the campaign was a success.
At the time, Slice did not have an established internship program, but they offered an internship to Rosenberg anyway. After nine months of interning, he was offered a full-time position where he continues to work today.
Rosenberg says he would not have landed the marketing opportunity, or the internship, or his full-time position, if it were not for his cold email.
When asked what advice he would give to SC&I students about using the cold email technique, he says to find your niche in the industry you're interested in, know exactly who you’re going after, customize and craft your emails and responses accordingly, and to just try to get your foot in the door creatively.
“The internship world is competitive,” said Rosenberg. "It's crucial to try different mediums of application to show an employer the value you can deliver. If you just apply to an open role and move on, you'll miss out on opportunities you didn't even know existed.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have lost their internships for the upcoming summer and are still continuing to look for more opportunities.
Rosenberg provided another piece of advice to consider during the pandemic and said, “Just because there is no internship listing for a company, does not mean that company does not need more resources.”
The overall takeaway from this is the cliché: if you do not try, the answer will always be no.