A Career Conversation (aka Informational interview) is an in-person, virtual, or phone meeting with someone in a field or position that you are exploring or considering as a career to gather information, receive advice, and build your network. They are not interviewing you; you are interviewing them to learn more about the field and what next steps you should take. There are plenty of resources online that can tell you about a particular career, but this is an opportunity to hear about an actual day in the life of an expert. This is not an interview for a job, nor should you ask for a job. It is simply time for you to build your network and for them to share their knowledge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Email or phone are appropriate ways to request a meeting. No matter how you connect, be sure to identify who you are, how you found their information, your shared connection, why you are interested in meeting or speaking with them, and how to contact you. Below is a sample for an email or phone call script that you may tailor to the specific professional to request a career conversation. Note that it sometimes to help to just ask for 10-15 minutes to respect the professional?s busy schedule and increase the likelihood they will accept your request.
Dear Mr. Edwards,
My name is Bailey Jones, and I am a freshman at Creighton University considering a career in marketing. A family friend of mine, Tracy Michaels, suggested I contact you to learn more about the field. Would you be available for a 30 minute career conversation at a time that is convenient for you to discuss your position and the field of marketing? As a Creighton alum, I thought you would have an excellent perspective on what a current Creighton student could do to prepare themselves for the field. If you are open to meeting or speaking with me, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 402.000.0000 to set up at time that is convenient for you. Thank you for your time.
Details about a certain job, company, field, or industry are great topics for a career conversation, as are the educational and professional history of the person with which you are meeting. Asking for feedback or advice are also appropriate. Just keep in mind that the interview is an opportunity for you to learn about them, not to talk a lot about yourself.
- Tell me a little about your background. How did you get started in this field?
- Why did you decide to work for this company?
- What is your favorite aspect of your work?
- What is your least favorite aspect of the job?
- What are the rewards and challenges of this field in general?
- What sorts of changes are occurring in your occupation?
- How is the employment outlook in this field?
- What degrees, skills, and experiences are important for someone entering this career?
- What courses and past experiences proved the most valuable for you in this job?
- What else can I be doing to develop experience and knowledge in this field?
- What are the typical entry-level jobs?
- What can you tell me about this company's atmosphere and culture?
- What is expected outside of work hours in terms of availability, social events, etc.?
- How flexible are dress codes, work hours, work locations, and job schedules?
- How has your job affected your lifestyle?
- How long do people typically work in their jobs here?
- What would be the next step in your career?
- What other fields or companies do you think I should research?
- Who else would you recommend that I speak with to learn more about the field? May I use your name as the referral?
Whether by email or mail, always send a thank you note. This is an opportunity to not only thank the professional for their time, but it also helps you to expand your network. Try to personalize each letter with some details specific to your conversation. Below is a sample for email or letter.
Dear Mr. Edwards,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and provide insight into the field of marketing. It was very helpful to hear what an actual day in the field looks like, and I was surprised by the amount of computer skills you use every day. I plan to take an additional class that focuses on these skills. Thank you again for your time and advice. I hope our paths will cross again in the future.