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I worked for company P over the summer as an internship. A big part of working at P was doing a project for a customer, company Q. The project was exclusively ran by the interns at P, with a small oversight from upper management. The final part of this was a demonstration with two contacts from company Q. The demonstration was a success, and after exchanging information, we parted ways.

Recently I noticed that company Q is coming to my university for a career fair. Company Q is also looking for people with my major. Company P will also be at the career fair, though I do not know how relevant this is. Company Q is a company of over 100,000 employees, however, the location that they're very likely sending employees from has 200 or less.

Is it professional to cold-email two of P's previous customers, people whom I've only met twice, to find out more about why they're attending the career fair, and who i can contact further?

if this is acceptable, how do I contact the customer in a professional, yet brief manner?

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    Are you using “cold email” as a euphemism for “spam” ie unwanted or unsolicited email? – Solar Mike Aug 27 at 4:40
  • @SolarMike I'm not sure it's spam, but unsolicited, yes. I did get one of their business cards, but I'm not sure this is why they gave it to me :) – tuskiomi Aug 27 at 4:42
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    It is acceptable to email them, but also paranoid, in my opinion. Why bather about their reasons to visit the fair? Just go up their, introduce yourself and have a chat. – Bobstar Aug 27 at 6:05
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    Can you add a Country tag please? I once called an interviewer who gave me his card during an interview after I didn't get the job to ask for an internship instead. He was impressed by my motivation and after 3 weeks of the internship I got the job I applied for beforehand. This was in Germany and he literally told me "That is the reason why I give out cards, so if someone really wants something, they can reach me directly." – Pudora Aug 27 at 7:11
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    @Pudora done. Not Germany, but that's some good experience! – tuskiomi Aug 27 at 12:58
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Company Q is a company of over 100,000 employees

they're very likely sending employees from location has 200 or less

It is an over-expectation to think that the 2 contacts from Q you met will be aware of the exact reasons for company coming to the career fair. Companies this large hire and fire people all the time, what do you really expect them to say, other than a generic answer like check with their representative at the booth?

Even if they are aware, why should you get some insider information to the disadvantage to other candidates?

This is assuming they are willing to take out the time to answer your mail, which seems improbable given your relation with them was brief and indirect (via P).

So, unless you left an extreme strong impact on their minds during your interaction, don't cold mail because the best case output is a generic response, but in worst case, they tag you mentally as a desperate spammer.

A better use of the reference is if you were to join Q on merit, and then try to network internally with them, or continue having more interactions with them to build a proper professional relationship.

A better use of your experience is to put that you worked indirectly for a project at Q on your resume, and hope that the people from Q at the fair notice that.

  • The idea is that they'd know someone who did know.. – tuskiomi Aug 27 at 5:19
  • The idea can also be that they'd know someoneA who didn't know, and that someoneA may know someoneB who didn't know, and that someoneB may know someoneC who didn't know, but that someoneC may know someoneD who knows? Why do they go to that much trouble for you to give you extra information? – mu 無 Aug 27 at 5:22
  • Alright. so now your perspective could use some explaining.. Why does someone give a person a business card if they know that said interaction is purposed as the final interaction for the project where everything is wrapped up? Certainly it's not out of formality, and without purpose? – tuskiomi Aug 27 at 5:26
  • I'm not saying that they have an obligation to do this, I'm genuinely curious to the answer. – tuskiomi Aug 27 at 5:30
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    @tuskiomi I've shared what I see to be a better use of the reference from my perspective :) – mu 無 Aug 27 at 5:33
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I say go for it! As an employer I have always been shocked by the lack of follow up or requests for recommendations by interns. It is quite likely that company Q knows their project was run by interns and even handed out cards with the understanding that the whole point of interning is to get experience that eventually lands a job.

I would simply mention that you were one of the presenters on the summer project and now noticed that the company is hosting a career fair. Ask if they would they have any information or insight as to what jobs are opening or whether your experience is relevant. Just keep it short and professional.

I have always been impressed with those smart enough to simply ask for coffee or a meeting-while I may not always be hiring, I'm happy to do an informational interview- and I've passed along plenty of resumes to colleagues. Don't underestimate the power of networking and the willingness of more experienced professionals to share knowledge and help the next wave of employees if they can.

All that being said, if your industry is known for frowning on this type of communication, you might want to reach out to your supervisor from the internship and ask for an introduction to the two people from company Q.

  • +1 I agree completely, they don't give out business cards for fun or because they look cool. They gave them to you, so you have the ability to reach them directly. If you would have to call the frontdesk I might have some second thoughts, but it was a (recent) project and they have seen you before. And even if this is a huge company who doesn't remember you, it is not something that anyone would burn a bridge over. – Pudora Aug 27 at 13:29
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It is acceptable to email them, but also paranoid, in my opinion. Why bather about their reasons to visit the fair? Just go up their, introduce yourself and have a chat.

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Yes, I think you can write them a short mail and ask who to contact. Fairs can get quite busy, so if you really want to talk to someone, a scheduled date is a good idea. It's also no easy for the staff to decide on the spot with whom they want to talk longer (time is truly money on a fair).

So if you schedule a date in advance, they can make sure that the correct contact person is at the booth, maybe even saw your CV in advance and already knows that you worked with the once which proofs that you are somehow qualified for the job and worth talking to.

(Asking why they are at a career fair however is a strange question).

You could ask them to pass your contact data to the organizer of the fair together with a short recommendation.

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