Don’t let the term “interview” intimidate you. It simply means talking to people about their jobs. Having a conversation with others working in the career fields you’re considering will help you decide if they are right for you.
Sure, career assessments can point you in the right direction, but when you need real time information, there is no substitute for the 30- minute informational interview.
Let’s imagine that you want to decide between pursuing advertising or sales for your upcoming internship.
Ask family, friends, professors, clergy, neighbors, roommates, anyone you know, who they know in these professions. Then, ask for permission to contact them, using your friend as a reference.
- Send an email (see example below) or call the contacts, explaining who you are, how you got their name, and requesting a 30 minute conversation about what they do. If you live in close proximity, ask if you might treat them to coffee or a meal during your conversation.
- Be prompt for your appointment and respectful of the 30-minute time frame. Conduct research on the industry and prepare questions ahead of time.
- Follow up on any other referrals they give you.
- Send a thank you note within 24 hours of your meeting.
Sample email request for informational interview
Dear Ms. Jones:
My coach, Jack Travis, recommended that I contact you when he learned of my interest in the field of advertising. My name is John Cavanaugh. I’m a sophomore at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, considering major and career options. I’d like to learn more about the field of advertising and it’s job opportunities.
Would you be willing to talk with me about your career path and the future of the advertising industry? If so, I would like to schedule a 30-minute meeting at your convenience. Meeting in person or by phone would work equally well for me. Thank you for considering my request.
Still Not Convinced?
I’ll bet your thinking…
I don’t want to bother people.
Most people want to pay it forward. They also remember what it was like to be a student making the same decisions you are. And let’s face it most human beings love to talk about themselves and what they do to others.
I want to do this on my own.
I hear this a lot from students, who don’t want to rely on anyone else for their success. Believe me, you WILL have to make career decisions and land jobs/internships on your own. It’s YOU who has to write an effective resume; it’s YOU who has to nail the interview; it’s YOU who has to follow up with potential employers. You’re not asking for a job or a handout. You’re asking for information to assist you along the way.
Stop by University Career Services on the fourth floor of Hanes Hall. We’ll be happy to guide you through the process.