Informational interviewing simply means speaking with someone in a particular career or field to learn more about it. You may have an e-mail exchange, a phone conversation, or an in-person meeting. Most alumni and/or professionals really enjoy helping others and like to share the story of their career journey, as well as provide valuable advice about entering a particular field.
1. Identify a career path, job title, an organization or alumni/professional of interest to you. You can do this in a variety of ways such as talking with friends, family, neighbors, or professors to see who they know. Don’t forget to ask people in your clubs, organizations, and community service groups if they know professionals in your field of interest. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are good sources to find people in a variety of career paths too. Individual schools on campus may have their own social media groups and the University of Hartford Alumni Group on LinkedIn as well as the Alumni On-Line Directory are good resources.
2. Research before making any contact with a potential alumni/professional to interview! Research the field and the company beforehand so you can converse intelligently with the alumni/professional. There are many resources to utilize such as Vault and FactsOn-File found on CareerBridge, the Occupational Outlook Handbook and specific professional organizations.
3. Make an appointment with Career Services to learn about best practices and how to properly conduct informational interviews.
4. Prepare questions ahead of time to ask the alumni/professional.
5. Contact the alumni/professional and explain who you are, how you obtained this person’s name, and why you are contacting him/her.
6. Ask when a convenient time would be for the alumni/professional to speak with you and if he/she prefers to correspond by e-mail, phone call, or an in-person meeting.
7. Meet, talk on the phone, or e-mail the interviewee at an agreed upon time. Be professional at all times in your interaction with the alumni/professional!
8. Thank the person for sharing his/her time, expertise and advice.
9. Follow up with a personalized e-mail thank you note or a handwritten thank you note.
Hello, my name is Sheila James and I am a sophomore at the University of Hartford majoring in civil engineering. I received your name from Professor Lori Shaffer who suggested I contact you to learn more about your career as a civil engineer at Tighe & Bond Consulting Engineers. I realize you are very busy, but I was hoping to speak with you about trends in green careers and what additional classes or internships would be a good idea for me to take while I am a student. I may be reached at (860) 555-5555 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Dear Ms. Asbury:
I came across your name on LinkedIn, through the University of Hartford’s Alumni Group. Currently, I work in finance and I am seriously thinking of changing careers. In your profile, it appears you may have worked in a business environment and made a career change to become a math teacher in a high school. I was hoping I may speak with you about your career transition. I may be reached by this e-mail, or my cell phone number is (203) 555-5555. Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely, Joel Hailey