On a recent campus tour I spoke to over 400 students at 5 different campuses. Each time I asked students in the audience to raise their hand if they owned business cards. Each time I could count the number of hands raised on my fingers (not once did it exceed 7 students!).
Typically the few students who did raise their hands were from the business school. I was absolutely shocked because business cards are the bread and butter of professional branding. They are a passport to the professional world! Trying to land an internship or job without a business card is a bit like showing up to a soccer match without cleats – you can still play but you are going to look funny.
The first myth that needs to be dispelled is that business cards are just for those interested in Fortune 500s. In nearly every industry from world changing non-profits to early stage startups business cards are used regularly. Even volunteers at the Red Cross use business cards. This is not a business school thing, it is a I am no longer thinking like a student thing.
Why Do Business Cards Matter?
Business cards will make you look awesome. Since they are such a standard in the professional world, and since most students don’t have them, if you give out business cards at interviews, at career fairs, at professional networking events, it immediately signals to an employer that you get it. You can fit into an office and start contributing.
The #1 fear most employers have when hiring students is that the boss will have to spend a ton of time training them on email, phone call etiquette, how to network, and other soft skills. By showing off your business cards, these folks will immediately drop that fear and start thinking about how you can contribute to the office with real work.
Other Helpful Places to Use Business Cards
- At school and club speaker events
- At meetups or chamber of commerce events
- At informational interviews
- To professors and TAs who have prior industry experience
It is fun!
While it seems like a pain, making business cards is quick, inexpensive and can be a lot fun. When I first met Erica Mills, an expert in brand management with a focus on non-profits, she told me that a business card should have a voice – when someone sees your business card the next day they should also see your face. Whether this means adding your picture to the card, rounding the corners, making it minimalist and sharp, it can be a lot of fun to design a business card that has your personality.
One of our former interns, Gabe Pelegrin, used a colorful, simple deisgn for his business card that is 100% Gabe–check it out here! (He used this same design on his personal website and on his resume too!).
Don’t fret–even if you are not design savvy, most schools have template business cards you can use simply by calling your career service center and ordering cards through them! The typically use your college seal, which while not overly unique, still says a lot about who you are.
InternMatch.com recommends Vistaprint.com which offers 500 business cards for just $10, but there are a ton of other sites that have similar deals as well.
If it gets you your next internship or job–this will be the best $10 you have ever spent.
Nathan is co-founder and Director of Marketing at InternMatch.com. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Nathan joined long-time friend and co-founder, Andrew Maguire in starting InternMatch to build a better way for students to find interesting internships. Nathan has spoken at Stanford, University of Washington, and countless other west coast schools on how to find the right career and stand out in a tough job market. Nathan enjoys meeting new people, the challenges of startup life, and helping students navigate their future — feel free to email him internship or any other questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.