What Are Informational Interviews?

student informational interview
One great way that you can figure out which careers might be the best fits for you is to start talking informally to people actually working in that industry.

Adults love to talk about what they do for a living, and students never ask about it.  The vast majority of professional people would be more than happy to meet you for coffee for 30 minutes and tell you about what they do every day.
I have never seen someone turn a kid down for this request, and both the adult and the student always end up having a great time.

Here’s what you do: find some people who work in an area that interests you.  Call or email them and ask them if you can take them to coffee to discuss their career.  Set a clear date, time and meeting place, and then dress nicely and show up early.  DO NOT be on time or, God forbid, late.  Be early.  You can take notes.
 
Then, ask them questions like these:
What did you major in college?
What is your job title?
How did you get to that position?
How many years did it take you to get where you are?
What career goals have you set for yourself?
What parts of your job do you really like?
What parts of your job are the least fulfilling?
What parts of your job are the most challenging?
What sorts of personalities work well in this type of job?
Do you think this career would be a good fit for me?
What sort of education is required or suggested for this job?
Do you need to get an advanced degree for this career?
Do you feel the compensation is equal to the work and education?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to choose this career?
 
Then, thank them for their time.  Shake their hand and make good eye contact.  Follow up with an thank you email, and do not bombard them with ridiculous and superfluous questions, but if you want to send one to follow up email with a couple of serious questions, ask them if that might be ok.
These interviews are a great way for you to choose your major and to save money by not changing majors in college. In addition, if you’re looking for a job or internship, this is a great way to get leads on available positions.
 
Yay, college!

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