So you want to learn about a career path, make industry-specific connections, or gain insight on how to break into a field. An effective next step for all these situations would be to arrange some informational interviews.
Informational interviews are professional meetings that you set up, generally without a job or internship on the horizon. They allow you to glean industry information from someone on the inside. You can ask questions that will help you gain clarity and inform your next steps. Subjects for these questions can include – common paths into the field, needed skills sets to be successful, challenges of the work, typical day on the job, advice professional would give to younger self, and so much more. Ultimately, these meetings help build your professional relationships – your network.
Almost all professionals remember what it feels like to be starting a career or trying to navigate the vast and evolving world of work. And many are willing to give you 20-30 minutes of their time to help. So take a chance and set up some interviews!
Here are a few tips to navigate the networking process:
- Alumni are a great place to start. Follow up after networking events, alumni panels, or other campus opportunities. The LinkedIn Alumni Tool is another way to identify and reach out to alumni in your interest areas.
- Be clear about what you are asking for –- a brief meeting to learn about one’s path or industry. (Sample communications.)
- Convey gratitude and flexibility for all communications. In person, phone, Skype – there are lots of ways to hold these meetings.
- Have your questions ready in advance of the meeting.
- Be prepared to share information about yourself and your interest in their field.
- Be professional. You never know what opportunities your networking could lead to. And always follow up with a thank you.
- Stay in touch. When you land a job, be sure to let the people you met with know!
Senior Career Counselor, Alumni Programs
UVM Career Center