Step by Step – Informational Interviews 101

In my last blog I talked about what an Informational Interview is and why they are so valuable to you when you are just getting started in your career. I also suggested that you should go on DOZENS of them which probably had ½ of you running out of the room. In fact it is easier than you might think to do these – and part of the reason is that people genuinely want to be helpful to other people who are just getting started. So capitalize on all this good will – you will get a lot more positive responses than you might think. So here we go – step by step – Informational Interviewing 101:

  1. You make a big list of names and contact information of people who you know well enough to send an email to them. This includes people who are in a field that interests you or who are simply people with professional careers, who you admire. This list should include professors, people who you worked with or for on internships, old bosses, relatives, friends of your parents, your friends parents etc. Cast a wide net.
  2. Start with the easy ones. Pick a professor in your field, a boss who you did good work for, or an aunt who just has a terrific career even if she isn’t in your field. Send them an email explaining that you are really focusing on moving from college into your career, and that you would love to come tell them about your career interests and get any advice that they might have on how to best get started. Ask them for a ½ hour meeting.
  3. When geographically possible do these in person – if not – do a phone call.
  4. Be prepared to give your elevator speech – giving them a picture of what you have done in school and what you are thinking about for your career. What is an elevator speech? See my Blog, “Everyone Needs An Elevator Speech”.
  5. Come to the meeting prepared with a list of questions. Not sure what questions to ask? See my Blog “Informational Interview Sample Questions”.
  6. This is not a job interview so don’t bring your resume. If the conversation goes well ask if you can send your resume to them for their feedback. Also ask them if you can connect with them on LinkedIn. This of course requires that you have a LinkedIn profile – so if you don’t – go make one!
  7. Ask them if they can think of other people that it would be helpful for you to talk to, and if they have suggestions ask for those people’s contact information.
  8. ALWAYS send them a thank you email within 24 hours of meeting with them.
  9. When you get home jot down key ideas or suggestions from the meeting and keep a running record of what you have learned in each of these meetings.

Honestly, these get easier to do every time you do them – but if you have a concern that is blocking you from getting started, go to the contact page on our website and send me an email and let me know how to reach you and I will get back to you to set up a free 30 minute conversation.