Knowing how, why and when to have informational interviews might be the one thing between you and your dream job. Whether you're a second-semester senior in the midst a job search, or a sophomore looking for a great summer internship, informational interviews with industry-insiders are an invaluable resource.
What is an informational interview? An informational interview is a time to sit down with a professional or an industry expert, and get their insight, advice and wisdom on their career path, not a time to ask for jobs, internships, etc. You can find out more about certain industries, career paths or even specific companies -- all things will be great resources when you do begin a job search.
How can you find people to interview with? The best place to start is by reaching out to people you've worked with or have met at networking events. Additionally, don't be afraid to ask family members, friends and classmates to see if they know anyone working in your industry with whom you could talk.
Still feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of finding people to reach out to? Spend a little bit of time looking into each of the channels below -- you're sure to find some great prospects. Look for contacts that work in industries that you're interested in, or at companies that you admire.
- Your school's alumni directory
- Professors and faculty
- Former colleagues
- Friends' parents
- Your parents' friends
- Professional and/or local organizations
- Industry-specific networking events, workshops and seminars
- Online networking (like LinkedIn!)
- Online and offline trade publications and newsletters
How can I set up an interview? Unless your contact is someone with whom you've worked before, the best way to reach out is via a short email. Or, if you don't have a direct email address for someone, LinkedIn can be a great resource for making contact.
When it comes time to write and send your interview request, there are a ton of great resources online for sample emails. Here is one tailored for undergraduates and one specifically for seniors.
What do I do after the interview? When you get home, be sure to write a thank you note while your conversation is still fresh in your mind. Send your thank you via email that same day, and a hand-written note within the next week. Throughout your college career, if you take advantage of informational and informal interviews, you'll be well prepared for any job opportunity that comes your way.
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