Guest Author - Susan D. Bates
If you are interested in conducting an informational interview you will need to identify a professional in your field of interest to interview. Finding a professional to interview can be a challenge for many students because they are not certain where to look for contacts. Below is a list of methods for identifying professionals who may be willing to participate in an informational interview.
Friends and Family
One great way to find referrals of professionals is to ask friends and family. Ask all of your friends and family if they know anyone who works in the career field you are interested in investigating. When you contact the professional to request an interview state who referred you.
College Faculty and Staff
You can talk to people who work on campus about your desire to interview a professional in your field of interest. You can ask if they have any suggestions how to identify professionals to interview. They might know of a particular person or point you in a direction to find potential interviewees.
Events with Professionals
Some colleges host events where professionals of a particular career field are invited to attend. These events can give you an opportunity to network with professionals. If you meet professionals you would like to interview, ask them if it would be possible to arrange an informational interview with them to learn more about their career. Be sure to ask for their business card to make contacting them easy.
Attending conferences on topics related to your career field is a great way to meet professionals working in that field. During breaks in the conference or while waiting for events to begin, network with professionals attending the conference. If you meet professionals you would like to interview, ask them if they would be willing to schedule an informational interview.
It can be very helpful to become a student member of professional organizations in your career field while you are attending college. This provides opportunities to explore the organizations at a discounted rate and network with professional members. Many professional organizations make membership lists available to all members to facilitate networking within the the group. If you find members who you would like to interview, contact them to let them know you found their contact information through your mutual affiliation with the group.
There are many social networks online where you can connect with professionals. There are social networking sites specific to particular fields and there are general professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn. If you find professionals in your career field of interest through a social networking site, explain that you are a student and would like learn more about their career. (If they are not in your local area, you can request a modified informational interview by phone, by email, or through video chat.)
Alumni of your college can be great resources for students who want to learn more about a profession. They have been where you are and are often feel a connection to you because you are attending their alma mater. Many career services offices and alumni associations have programs designed to connect students and alumni. If you find alumni who you would like to interview, contact them to ask they they are willing to be interviewed about their career. Be sure to tell them where you go to college and explain how you received their contact information.
Informational interviews can be helpful to learn about careers and to meet professionals in your field who may become part of your network. Use the list above to find potential interviewees for informational interviews.