attend informational interviews
An informational interview is typically a one-on-one conversation with someone who works in a field of interest; the purpose is for you to gain information and insight into the career, employer, and industry.
Investigate all of the different settings where people work in the careers that interest you. For example, if you are considering nursing, examine positions in hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinics, community health centers, rehabilitation centers, schools and colleges, and research facilities. Or if you are studying physical education, look into community recreation or corporate wellness.
It is also desirable to obtain more than one perspective on the careers of interest to you. Interview individuals who hold these positions and their supervisors or department heads. (Keep in mind that it is often easier to start with the boss and then be “sent down” to the level where you might start.) Talk to people in more than one organization because jobs can differ greatly depending on the work environment of individual employers.
People employed in the jobs that you are interested in can provide great information on:
- A realistic idea of their work day
- Information on the types of organizations that hire in the field
- Current ranges on starting salaries and future earnings
- Information on advancement opportunities
- The skills and credentials necessary to secure employment
- The employment demand for people in their field
- Advice on where to look for jobs in the field
Supervisors or department heads can provide additional information on:
- An overview of the structure of the organization
- Advice about other related jobs
- Advice on getting started in the field and what they seek when hiring
- Advice about career progressions
- Referrals to other people in the field
Try to conduct your first interviews with people whom you know so that you can become polished at the process before you venture out into the unknown. At the end of an informational interview, always ask the interviewee for a referral to another person or two in the field from which you may obtain further information. In this way you will develop you own network of contacts.