As the Tisch Center’s Assistant Director for Career Services, Amanda Gallocher’s responsibilities include working with industry partners to facilitate career opportunities for Tisch Center students and helping students and alumni plan and execute successful internship and career search strategies.
Remember in grammar school at the end of each school year, your teacher would assign you a list for summer reading? Many kids would read the minimum requirement; I would always finish the entire list. Even though I was young, I realized the importance of setting goals.
What are your goals this summer? Spend time searching for that amazing fall internship? Working that part-time job to pay for your books for the upcoming semester? I thought I would suggest one that is easy enough for any student to do, no matter what your summer schedule is like: Conduct Informational Interviews.
What exactly is an informational interview? According to LinkedIn spokesperson, Lindsey Pollak,
“Essentially, an informational interview is a networking meeting where the interviewee (the successful professional) agrees to share some career advice with the interviewer (you).”
An informational interview serves a dual purpose: 1) it allows you to gain insider industry knowledge and 2) it will allow you to expand your personal network and make connections to possible employment leads. For students pursuing careers in hospitality, tourism and sports management, who you know is critical in the job search process. So how do you find people to interview?
1) Search within your own personal network: maybe it’s the neighbor next door, maybe it’s your aunt’s sister-in-law’s brother’s cousin. Use your personal network to network!
2) Get on LinkedIn: It almost goes without saying but if you do not have a LinkedIn profile by now, you should. Do an advanced search for the company you want to work for or search for key words. If there is someone in your network that you think would be an exciting prospect, try reaching out to them. Instead of clicking on “Connect”, right click on the little arrow next to it and click on “Get Introduced”. Perhaps a professor or other mutual contact will be willing to introduce you.
3) Check in with either Jennifer Burns or me. We have access to a many industry contacts from alumni to employers. We would be happy to help you connect with anyone appropriate we can.
4) Ask your professors for suggestions of alumni and industry contacts as well.
5) Remember that guest speaker who came in to talk to your class? Try to get in touch again and ask if she/he might have some time for an informational interview.
So once you request the informational interview – then what? You dress in business professional attire as if you were going in for an interview. Come prepared with your resume and a list of questions to ask.
Possible questions include:
Can you tell me a little about your educational experience and career path?
What are the major job responsibilities?
With what other units or departments do you collaborate?
What do you like about working for this company? What do you dislike?
What are some of the challenges and decisions you make in your role?
What kind of work/internship experience would employers look for in a job applicant?
Which skills do employers really look for in an applicant?
What are the main or most important personal characteristics for success in this field?
What types of technology are used and how?
What career advice do you have for me?
Are there any questions you think I should have asked that I have not?
Can you suggest others who may be valuable sources of information?
Can we connect on LinkedIn?
After the interview, make sure to send a thank you note or email to follow up. Now that you have made this contact, you can follow up every few weeks to report your progress and develop your relationship. Most internship/job connections are made through personal networking so this is an important step in your professional development. It will allow you to become more comfortable talking to industry professionals and it will broaden your own network. With a little bit of planning and luck, this process will serve you well upon exiting your program. If you want more information about how to be a successful informational interviewer, please feel free to reach out to me for an appointment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks and stay cool this summer!