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The Importance of an Informational Interview

Networking: the word is thrown out there an overwhelming amount by our professors and advisors. We know it is essential for the future; however, sometimes we tend to put it off and forget its importance in the job search process. Although it is tempting to procrastinate, it’s vital to get a jump-start on the networking process during college. One great way to network is through informational interviews. Informational interviews are an integral part of the networking and job search process to get you on the path to your dream job and an overall rewarding career. Many times they lead to actual job interviews or further opportunities.

Asking for an informational interview from someone in your desired profession, demonstrates your evident interest, drive, and determination to create a successful career path for yourself. It also highlights your outgoing personality. Putting yourself out there demonstrates a proactive approach that almost all employers are looking for in a young professional.

There are a few important steps to remember concerning informational interviews. The first key step to a successful informational interview is finding the right person to contact. This may seem like a daunting task, but this is where the professional website LinkedIn.com is extremely helpful. Creating and maintaining a LinkedIn profile proves to be extremely beneficial in networking with professionals in your field and keeping in contact with previous employers or colleagues. Even though you may not have a direct connection with someone on LinkedIn, you can join the same groups as an individual and still be able to send them a message via LinkedIn.

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Utilizing LinkedIn has worked well for me in my job search. It allows me to seek out the most qualified people to speak with that matched my exact interests. Specifically, I joined groups such as “Linked In Chicago” and “Jobs & Careers in Golf” because those were some of my individual interests. Once I joined, I searched through the group members and viewing their current and past work experiences. Although they were not my direct or 2nd connections, I was able to message people of interest requesting an informational interview. Of the three people I contacted, all three were able to answer my specific questions either over the phone or through e-mail communication. These conversations were surprisingly simple, and they provided me with new insights in my field of interest.

For instance, I searched in the “Jobs & Careers in Golf” group, and I found a person that is the Director of Communications at Bandon Dunes Golf Course in Oregon, which is a course that I researched earlier. I viewed his past work experience and saw that he worked for the Chicago Cubs as a member of the Media Relations staff, as well as worked for a golf sport marketing company that was based around Chicago. This person stuck out to me as a contact that would greatly help me in my personal job search process due to his present and past experiences. His expertise with media relations within the professional baseball and golf industries were exactly matching what I desire for my future career path. After requesting an informational interview through a LinkedIn message, I gained valuable information about my industries of interest as well as expert advice about the general job search process from someone who was extremely successful in my field of interest. He has stayed in contact with me since the interview and updates me regularly on open job positions within the golf industry.

Before you speak with anyone, it is important to prepare. Taking the time to look up some information on the company and mission will help guide your questions during the informational interview. Since this is considered a networking process, it is also important to research the professional background of the person you are interviewing. By acquiring background knowledge about the company and person you are speaking with, you can dive into deeper questions during the interview, which will enhance your experience. Also, background research shows a proactive approach and an active interest in bettering yourself by creating opportunities for the future. You will definitely remain memorable to the person you are interviewing if you know your stuff. Who knows, they might turn to you five years down the road when there is a job opening at their company!

One last thing to remember with an informational interview is sending a thank you e-mail or message on Linked In afterwards. Just like a regular job interview, sending a thank you shows that you appreciate their time and really enjoyed the conversation you had with them.

Although powerful, LinkedIn is not the only tool to seek out contacts for informational interviews. Indiana University maintains an Alumni Directory that all students have access to for free: (http://alumni.indiana.edu/together/directory/index.html). The directory allows you to search alumni using a vast array of filters and provides you with a means of contacting them directly through the alumni database system. Additionally, the “Human Resources” or “Staff Directory” pages on organization websites may also lead you to the right connections. Beyond searching online, you can obviously contact friends, family, or friends of your parents if they are at an organization or in a position that interests you.

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No matter what approach you take, informational interviews are an imperative step in the job search process. Years later, one of these people may contact you, already knowing you are a proactive and outgoing individual, and tell you about an opening for your dream job! An informational e-mail or twenty-minute phone conversation could only benefit you in the long run.

Melissa Gohde is a senior in the Sport Communication program at Indiana University. She has interned with IU Athletics in the Marketing Dept. for the last year. After graduation she aspires to work in the sport marketing industry in the areas of social media and event planning. Image

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Categories: Career Advice Networking

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IUSPH Career Services

Job opportunities for Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington majors are diverse and expanding as the emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle grows around the world. Career Services experts in each of our academic departments will provide one-on-one counseling and career building opportunities throughout your academic career, from choosing the right major to developing a strategy to find a job. They can assist you with:

•career counseling
•internships
•job placement
•volunteer opportunities
•resume and cover letter preparation
•interview skills
•networking
•graduate school preparation

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