Interviewing, but not for a job!

Many students are apprehensive to attend networking events, and understandably so. If you want a more low-key, one-on-one approach to networking, a good option for you is to conduct informational interviews. Ask people you know to connect you, or talk to your career counselor about alums who are in the field you are pursuing. Once you find someone to connect with, call or email them. Ask to make a 20-30 mimute appointment with them just to talk about the field and get some advice.

After you set up your appointment, prepare a list of questions. For example, how did you get to where you are today? What courses did you take that were helpful? What are the best and worst days like? The last question should always be “is there anyone else you know who might be open to talking with me?” This gives you an opportunity to continue networking.

The day of, make sure you dress professionally. Take a copy of your resume and arrive early. Be cognizant of the time! If you notice it’s getting to the end of the appointment, say “I know we’re getting close to our time limit, do you have anything else you’d like me to know?” This allows them to either fill you in on what they think is important, or tell you it’s ok to go over time. Also, it is not ok to openly ask for a job. That is a separate interview, and is not why you are there. If they liked you, they will remember you when jobs do open up and talk with you then. If you are doing your informational interview over the phone, the same rules apply.

After your informational interview is done, remember to send a hand-written thank you note as well as a same-day email or phone call thank you.

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