HUM 275: Cold Email Assignment

Reaching out to people for advice, suggestions, and information is an excellent strategy to explore potential career paths. Networking often starts with people who naturally come into your orbit (work supervisors, professors, friends, friends-of-friends, famiy friends, etc.) but reaching beyond the people you meet in the ordinary course of events can open up new possibilities. We often think of “networking” as something that happens in person (or at events labeled for that purpose) but it can take a lot of forms. Reaching out by email can be an effective way to start forming relationships, particularly in this time of social distancing.

Using the strategy and template recommended in The Humanities Major’s Guide to Writing Cold Emails, write three cold emails. At least one must be to a total stranger and at least one must be to an acquaintance. The third is up to you.

If you don’t feel ready to send them yet, write them in a word doc and email it to me. If you prefer to write and send them, bcc your instructor (

You must have a specific addressee in mind for each–someone to whom you could actually send the email (not an abstract, made-up, or composite recipient).

You must know and include the address you would send it to (but you don’t have to send it in order to complete the assignment)

For full credit, the email needs to be a networking email — one that takes some initial first step in building a relationship with someone relevant to your career. Emails that DON’T COUNT for purposes of this assignment:

  • Emails asking someone for information, where that person’s job is giving information (e.g., an email to the admissions department of a graduate program, asking for information about that program).
  • Emails to professors here on campus. You should definitely feel free to network with them — but a “cold email” is not the best strategy for building that relationship. (Talking to students is part of a professor’s job. If it’s a professor for a class you’re taking, there should be some provision for office hours– specified hours when a professor is available to talk to students. It’s fine to email to ask when those are or to ask for an appointment for them. You should specify which class you’re taking (or have taken) and it’s not a bad idea to briefly mention what you would like to talk about, but you don’t need to “pitch” the idea of getting together in the way you would in writing to a stranger on whom you have no claim.)

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