Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of an Informational Interview

By: Katherine Morrison, Account Executive for In-Home Services of Central PA

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Image Credit: TheBalance.com

As public relations and communications students, there are many different directions that we can go in during the course of our careers. Students often know their preference between agency and in-house communications work. However, many students forget that there are countless other lines of work they can go into besides those two choices, such as: healthcare, travel, political, non-profit, tech, art, etc. The industry options are endless causing students, including myself, to feel overwhelmed in choosing which industry is the right fit for them to go into. Thankfully, that’s where informational interviews come into play.

An informational interview is usually a conversation students or potential job seekers have with professionals. During which, they can seek advice on their career, a particular industry, and the corporate culture of a job. Many students tend to shy away from informational interviews because they don’t think someone in the professional world would want to talk to them or because they are nervous to reach out. However, there’s no reason to be afraid or nervous to ask for an informational interview. Professionals enjoy talking to students about their experience in the industry and offer great advice, as well. Use an informational interview as a guiding light in deciding what you may enjoy doing for work and what might not be the right fit for you. Informational interviews can be used in any industry, including PR agencies, and can also take as little as thirty minutes over the phone or in person.

So, how do you start the process of completing an informational interview? My first piece of advice would be to look at the network that you already have. Does a family friend work for a company you would be interested in working for? If so, see if they can get you in contact with someone from the communications department. Does your school have a large alumni base? If so, use LinkedIn and your school’s alumni center to reach out to graduates who are working in the industry or position you would love to work in. Looking around your network can be easier than you think and all it takes is a name and an email address to get started.

Once you find a contact, make sure to email them first when reaching out and asking about an informational interview. Explain why you’d like to talk to them and ask them which method is best for them to speak with you. Then, once the date is set for the interview make sure you write down any key questions you wish to ask them. Whether it be about their job, their experience, or their advice, this is the time to ask questions that can help you find the right fit for you later on in your career.

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