How one Linkedin connection request helped land me my first full-time job


Haley Hnatuk is a 2020 Muhlenberg College Media & Communications and Film Studies graduate. She is currently working as a Content Marketing Coordinator at Fastmail and is the Assistant Producer of their podcast, Digital Citizen, an Apple Top Tech show that focuses on how individuals can live healthier digital lives and make the internet a better place. She is passionate about the ways that technology can be used for community building.

Guest-written by Haley Hnatuk

I graduated from college in 2020; it was hard to enter the “real world” in a period of so much uncertainty. In the span of a few days in March of 2020, I went from having a plan to living in a pandemic-induced limbo. In the beginning, it was terrifying, but then little by little glimmers of hope began to appear.

I decided to virtually attend B.PHL Innovation fest 2020 on a whim after reading about it in a Campus Philly email. I had just taken a class on surveillance and was interested in learning more about digital privacy. After perusing the list of panels, I attended a conversation called “Rethink Privacy” featuring Fastmail COO, Helen Horstmann-Allen.

I was inspired by her talk and decided to send her a connection request on Linkedin.

A few tips for writing Linkedin connection requests:

  1. Don’t be afraid to connect with people who inspire you on in. You never know what opportunities will present themselves from a connection request.
  2. Share details in your connection request. This could be showcasing your authentic interest in the person and their work, or it could be displaying how your passions are aligned with their work. If you are talking about your skills in your request, it is important to be honest— you never know when they might have a need for someone with your ability.
  3. Follow up with people that you connect with and continue to foster that relationship.

The decision to send Helen a LinkedIn message after her panel is one that changed the trajectory of the last two years of my life. The next day, Helen responded telling me that Fastmail was looking for an intern. After applying for and interviewing for the position, I was offered the opportunity to launch my career at Fastmail as their Marketing Content Creation Intern.

A few tips for interviewing over Zoom:

  1. Before the interview, check out the company’s website, blog, and/or social media pages to get a good idea of the company’s brand and values.
  2. Take control of your environment before the call. Do you have a loud refrigerator? Unplug it. Do you have distracting objects in the background? Move them out of frame. Are you wearing a shirt that blends into the walls? Put on a different shirt.
  3. Listen to your pump-up song, switch your phone onto silent, and stay calm as you enter the virtual interview.

During the six months of my fully remote Fastmail internship, I grew as a storyteller. I was given the opportunity to challenge myself by producing blog posts about topics like email aliases and data privacy, and I was welcomed onto a team filled with incredible individuals who are passionate about making the world of email a better place.

I never expected to work in tech. I never expected to work at Fastmail. I never expected to write an article about my journey for Campus Philly, but sometimes life throws you curveballs. I was offered a full-time position at Fastmail in 2021. I am still working there now as a Content Marketing Coordinator and, with easing COVID restrictions, have been able to meet the entirety of our Philly staff (and some of our Australian staff) in our gorgeous Center City office.

When I was looking for jobs, no one told me how much of a blessing it was to work at a small company. In my experience, working at a smaller company has meant more opportunities for me as a young person. Additionally, I feel so incredibly fortunate to be able to work for a company that cares about retention and fostering employee growth. This company-wide commitment has funded my attendance of two NYU Storytelling courses as well as Slice’s 2021 Social Media Day conference. All of these opportunities have allowed me to learn alongside a community of peers and grow my understanding of content creation significantly.

Finally, and most importantly, I feel lucky to work at a company that’s values are aligned with mine. Check out our jobs page to learn about our job openings or read about our workplace culture at People First Jobs. Fastmail is a thoughtfully designed, easy-to-use, privacy-first email provider that has been an industry leader for 20 years. If you are interested, give us a try with a free 30-day trial.


Do you have content that you want to share? Apply here to join our Campus Philly Brand Ambassador Program—applications are open on a rolling basis!

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