At the ripe age of 26, Hofstra alumna Emily Miethner ‘10 has made a name for herself helping college students and recent grads in the creative fields network and with finding internships and entry-level jobs in New York City. Her company, FindSpark LLC., originated as what Emily refers to as a “side hustle” on Hofstra’s campus in the spring of 2010, and has become a company recognized by many as being a gateway for creative college students into the highly competitive creative fields of work.
Michael Ortiz: What is FindSpark?
Emily Miethner: We’re a community dedicated to setting up young creatives for career success. We create all sorts of resources and programming, all aimed to get you closer to your dream career through the people you meet and things that you learn. We’re the largest Meetup for interns and recent grads in the country, and since 2011 we’ve produced 100+ career programs for 10,500+ attendees.
MO: What made you start this business?
EM: When I was a student I realized that there weren’t any good career resources out there for creatives specifically – and there wasn’t much that spoke to our generation. I wanted to create resources in a way that would get people excited to start thinking about their careers. I also wanted to start something that emphasized the importance of making connections in person at events, and then using all the amazing tools we have at our disposal (i.e., the internet) to maintain, strengthen and continue to make more connections. I strongly believe that your network is the most valuable thing you will ever have in your career.
MO: How long has it been a legitimate business?
EM: I started planning and building the community as a recent grad who was also working full-time, because it was something I wished I had as a student. Seeing all the positive change we’ve made in the lives of our community members since then, I’m really glad I suffered through all the long nights and working weekends. I wouldn’t have been able to keep it up if it wasn’t something I really cared about.
MO: How long have you been running FindSpark full-time?
EM: Since January 2013.
MO: What are some of the company’s main goals?
EM: We want to make our community members the best possible candidates for their dream internships and jobs.
MO: What makes FindSpark stand out from other companies that help students find internships?
EM: FindSpark stands apart from other job boards because we are highly selective about the opportunities we post. We list only creative roles or other roles at creative companies, and we never post unpaid, not-for-credit internships. We know our community deserves to get something in return for their hard work! We also take it one step further than providing access to these opportunities; we give our members the resources they need to land the job through our career advice blog and events.
MO: How has your time at Hofstra helped you in creating and running your own business?
EM: I’m incredibly thankful for the mentors I had during my time at Hofstra. From professors to administrators to career counselors, they helped me gain confidence in pursuing what I felt passionate about, which lead me to realizing my strengths and developing the experience I needed to eventually start this businesses. In particular the Fine Arts Department and all the professors and staff there were key. They pushed my leadership abilities by encouraging me to do things like start a club, run events like “Not All Artists Are Starving, A Night of Networking,” and work on promoting the annual department art show.
MO: What was your internship experience like when you were in college?
EM: At one point I thought I wanted to be a graphic designer in the music industry. I was totally obsessed, and when I found out one of my professors was bringing in the owner of a record label to speak to our class, I asked if he could introduce us after the talk. Instead he introduced us via email ahead of time, and before I even met him he had offered me an internship and an interview at another label I mentioned I was interested in because he knew the founder. That was one of the coolest summers of my life – two internships at record labels in Williamsburg – but I decided it wasn’t the industry for me. My senior year I found my next dream internships, a marketing and events internship at “Time Out New York” magazine. I poured hours of effort into my application materials and landed the role before the deadline had even passed. That brings up one of my biggest tips, which is that it’s better to put more effort into fewer roles when you’re applying for jobs and internships.
MO: How important is a student’s GPA when they venture into the workforce or apply for internships?
EM: More often than not, and I’m speaking to creative roles and industries, people can care less about your GPA. They want to see what you’ve created and the experience you’ve had.
MO: How should we, as college students, manage our time when juggling so many things such as clubs, classes and internships?
EM: Managing your many responsibilities is definitely one of the hardest parts of college life. Creating routines is the best way to stay on top of your to-do list; put internships, club meetings, library time and trips to the gym in your calendar, and try to stick to that schedule. It will be a lot easier to get things done when you know you have several hours set aside to study for that test or plan your club’s next event.
MO: I know one of your main talking points is the importance of networking. How should college students begin networking?
EM: A lot of students don’t think they have the power to network yet. In reality, every single person you know is a part of your network. Professors, friends, parents’ friends, classmates – anyone you have any sort of relationship has the potential to help you in your career. Talk to professors in your field and reach out to alumni of your school; start meeting with everyone you can to discuss your industry and learn about how they got where they are. And always be mindful of how you can help others; doing favors for people in your network will help to keep you on their mind and make them more likely to help you out in the future.
Emily’s advice to college students who are struggling to find an internship is to really work hard on your cover letter and resume, making sure that they are unique for each job you apply to.
To use this great resource that Emily has provided to help find internships in creative fields, you can join the FindSpark community for free at findspark.com.