Exploring Careers through Informational Interviews

Have you researched careers online, but found it difficult to get a clear picture of what it’s like to do them? Do you have a few career ideas, but having trouble narrowing them down? Are you clear about the type of career you would like, but unsure how to enter the field or what type of company you would like to work for? Informational interviewing can help.

What is an informational interview?

Informational Interviews are short, low pressure conversations with people in a job, industry, or company that interests you. The goal is to get information and advice about what it’s like to do a job or work in a particular industry and how to prepare.

Why are they helpful?

These interviews can help you clarify your career goals, assess your qualifications, and gain inside knowledge of organizations. In some cases, multiple educational or job pathways can lead to the same career. Informational interviews help you learn about these pathways so you can make educated decisions about your next steps. They give you a better understanding of the daily tasks and work environment. They are not the place to ask for a job or internship, but can help you discover work opportunities that are not advertised. Those you speak with might let you know about opportunities they hear about.

Who do I contact?

Most people enjoy helping others, so don’t feel worried about asking for help. It’s likely that those you talk with will have done an informational interview sometime in their lives. Taking to someone you don’t know can be uncomfortable at first. It isn’t something that comes naturally for most people. That’s why it’s best to start with people you feel comfortable with such as a professor or relative. If you are nervous, practice on someone you trust. It doesn’t even need to be someone in your field of interest. Ask them if you can practice asking them some questions about their career or their company. Once you are a little more comfortable, branch out by asking for recommendations from people you already know. Do any of your relatives, friends, supervisors or professors know anyone working in your field of interest?

You can also use The Career Advisory Network (CAN). This is a network of close to 6,000 BU Alumni who have volunteered to speak to students and other alums about their careers. It’s operated and maintained by the BU Alumni Association. As a student, you can access it through the WORK tab on your student link account. As an alum, access it through this page on the Alumni Association website.

Click here to learn how to arrange an informational interview and questions to ask.

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