This blog was written by our former intern and Penn State Campus Ambassador, Alex Wetzel. Follow her on twitter @lex_wetzel.
Whether you're a freshman in college, a senior applying to jobs or someone who has a career, but looking for a change – informational interviews can help prepare you for those crucial next steps to success. These informal conversations with career professionals can provide you with countless benefits and have the ability to open the door to endless possibilities. The top 5 benefits of informational interviews include:
1. Networking: Every conversation with every person that you meet, is an opportunity to grow your network of industry professionals. Every conversation, email, phone call is an opportunity to exchange contact information and connect with them on both a professional and personal level. Don’t let these opportunities pass you by. Always have your phone on hand to add a number, paper and pen to write down and email, or a business card to hand out to ensure that you never let an opportunity pass you by.
2. Advice and tips: It is more than likely that the person you are talking with has a great deal of experience in their position and knows a lot about the field. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or if they have any tips to help you out in your job or internship search. Ask what interviews are like or what they look for in potential employees. If the interviewer doesn’t offer tips or advice, don’t beg. Simply engage in conversation and see what helpful hints you get out of it.
3. New information: Informational interviews allow you to ask questions about a certain position that you may have had no prior knowledge about. You will be able to get a better understanding about one’s occupation through asking in depth questions and engaging in conversation. On the opposing side, if you are speaking with someone and their position doesn’t line up with what you want to do – share your interests with person you are speaking ask them for advice on what field would be best for you. Make the most out of your conversation regardless if you feel that the field is or isn’t for you.
4. Experience: Talking with professionals is the best way to understand what someone’s day-to-day job is like. You will be able to get firsthand information about schedules, workload and how the company runs. This way you will be able to compare and contrast your ideas and values to that of the organization to see if it will be a good fit.
5. Communication skills: Last but not least, by doing informational interviews; you will develop better communicative skills. You will learn how to present yourself in person or over the phone, what is proper interview etiquette, how to be polite and respectful, and ultimately you will become more confident in yourself.
Now that you know all the benefits of informational interviewing – go out there and make those connections! What are you waiting for?