By Jessica Kweon, Peer for Career
A great way to build your network while gaining a better understanding of an industry you want to pursue is to arrange informational interviews. The purpose of informational interviews is to discover more about a certain field you may be considering; although informational interviews can help you develop productive working relationships that may lead to new opportunities, they should be conducted without any expectation of a job offer. One important thing to keep in mind is that informational interviews are not your standard job application interviews. During informational interviews, you are the interviewer and you get to ask questions about a professional’s experiences, challenges, and interests. Although informational interviews tend to be less stressful, you should always prepare for an informational interview as if it is a real interview and maintain the same level of professionalism.
For a successful informational interview, know exactly what you want to get out of the experience and make sure to do research. Think about industries you are planning on pursuing, the companies you would like to work for, and certain people who you can meet with to help you gain that knowledge. Make sure to take advantage of your current networks such as professors at Baruch, previous employers, friends, or even family. If you are currently working or interning, make sure to benefit from that network as well. Not only do you want to research what you want to learn more about, but also you should consider how that professional can help you. View their LinkedIn profile, browsing their background and their current position. Additionally, be aware of any recent events that have occurred relevant to the industry that might be worth taking note.
Once the professional has accepted your invitation for an informational interview, make sure to be ready. Remember to treat this as a real interview, so be prepared and professional. Have a list of questions available to ask the professional relating to his position and industry. Take notes during the meeting and let the conversation flow naturally. Towards the end, make sure to thank the professional for his or her time. Ask for any referrals for additional potential informational interviews and ask for their business card. Plus do not forget about that Thank You note! The professional has taken time out of his busy schedule to meet with you, so it is appropriate to follow up. Be sure to also keep records of who you have met and what you have learned for future reference.
Although informational interviews can seem intimidating, they are a great way to get informed about the career path you want to follow and clarify your own goals in the process.