Question: I am a paralegal student who is planning to relocate from the East Coast to California after graduation. What would be the best approach to make contacts that would make the move easier?
-- Andrea, Syracuse, N.Y.
Andrea: While California beckons, start your job search right there on the East Coast. You can cut down dramatically on the length of your search by getting your ducks in order before setting out.
Conduct research on the Internet by gathering data on the cities you are targeting and identifying companies of interest. California is a big state, so you are better off deciding on the two or three cities/regions with the greatest appeal. To narrow your preferences, consult RealEstateJournal's Best Places tool. Join a chat room for online conversations and advice, and call or write for chamber-of-commerce information packets.
Begin networking with people in your current location and garner referrals to people within your targeted cities and organizations. You will be pleased with how open people are to talking about past lives in previous locations, if they have lived elsewhere or know people in your desired spots. If at all possible, a well-planned visit before the move will afford you an up-close look and the opportunity to meet face to face with folks. Before hitting the road, create a well-developed list of potential contacts based on referrals and names you have identified from your research.
Place calls or send e-mails directly to contact people (no "dear sirs") about your upcoming visit, your intended relocation and your desire to meet with them to learn more about the city and/or their organization. Be sure to highlight your mutual connections and your excitement about relocation. The referrals you obtain from the meetings on your visit will build momentum and help turn your California dreamin' into a reality.
-- Ms. Koen responds to questions each week in the CollegeJournal.com Careers Q & A column. Ms. Koen is a vice president of Career Development Services, a Rochester, N.Y.-based, nonprofit career-management organization that helps individuals and organizations grow through change. She designed and currently manages the CollegeJournal.com telecounseling program, drawing on her experience in business, education and the nonprofit sector. Ms. Koen earned an M.A. in counseling from Colgate University and a B.A. in political science from Utica College of Syracuse University.
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