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A Guide to Cold Emailing 

A Guide to Cold Emailing 

A cold email is an unsolicited message inviting someone to connect with you. It can be an effective way to meet new people, develop a mentor, pitch a practicum idea, or schedule an informational interview. Before you start, you should see if anyone you know has a connection within the organization. You are more likely to get a response if you are introduced by a mutual contact.  Below are steps to help you craft your email. 

Step 1: Identify who you want to connect with

If you don’t have someone who can introduce you, you should identify a person to contact. That will depend on what you are seeking. 

If your focus is...

  • To make a connection at this organization because you’re interested in the work they do and you want to learn more, find someone in a position that you could envision yourself in. 
  • To find a practicum, you could identify a person who is managing a project that you could see yourself working on. 
Step 2: Craft your email 

Your subject line should be attention grabbing. You could take the straightforward approach- "Are you available for an informational interview?" If you have something in common with your contact, you could mentioned that. An example could be: "A fellow UC Davis Aggie!" Another option could be to mention a project they are working on that inspires you- "Inspired by your work on ___". 

After you figure out your subject line, here are some tips for crafting the rest of your email: 

  • Your greeting should be formal. Include their professional title if they have one.
  • Introduce yourself and give a short bio (also known as an elevator pitch).
    • You should include your name, your affiliation with UC Davis, brief professional background and what you are aspiring to do/ why you are reaching out.
  • Show the value in connecting with you. Many professionals are happy to mentor students or create connections for future hiring pipelines. 
    • This could be demonstrated by your experience and relevant interests to the work the professional is doing. 
  • Be clear in what you’re asking (if anything).
    • Do you want to schedule a time for an informational interview?
    • Are you looking for a practicum opportunity?
    • Are you connecting to establish a potential mentorship?
  • If you want to schedule a meeting, be sure to include options of days/times you are available for ease of scheduling. 
  • Thank them and close the email out. 
Step 3: Proofread

This email is a first impression! Make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors, and the contact and/or organization's name is spelled correctly.  Read the email out loud and make sure it flows and sounds conversational.  Make sure your email is concise and brief. If it takes longer than a few minutes to read, the person is likely going to ignore it. 

Example email for an informational interview:

Dear Dr. X,

My name is [your name], I am a masters student in the Environmental Policy and Management program at University of California, Davis. I have a background in [list any previous relevant professional experience] and I am interested in [name what your specialization or interests are that are relevant to the contact/organization]. I find your organization’s work in [name a project] inspiring. I would love to learn more about your organization and what you do in your role. Would you be available [give a few date and time options] to speak with me? I can either meet in person or via Zoom. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Your name

Program

Contact information [email and phone number]

Example email to pitch a practicum idea can be found here.
Tips: 
  • Be intentional with who you email and give them some time to respond. 
    • It is appropriate to follow up if you don’t hear back, but you should wait at least 10-14 days before doing so. 
  • Do not spam email multiple people at an organization. It sends a message that you are impatient if you start to email others in the same office before you hear back from the first person you contacted. 
  • Be creative! You can also reach out to specific people via LinkedIn messaging. 
  • Read our Guide for Networking