Career 101: Is that REALLY the job you want?

Have you wondered what it might be like to be an Emergency Nurse? How about a Computer Programmer?  If you are gleaning all of your knowledge of what a Crime Scene Investigator actually does from watching reruns of CSI, you may encounter a rude awakening when you go for your education and actually land yourself in that job.

Informational interviewing is a foundational step within career exploration. While you are in your own investigative place as a student you would be wise to conduct informational interviews of people within the potential careers/jobs that you think you might enjoy. The informational interview communicates the first-hand experiences and impressions of someone in the occupation, and is directed by your questions. 

Steps to conducting an interview of this type consist of:

1. Identifying a person who is currently employed within the field.
2. Calling to request a visit with them while they are on the job.  

The amount of time together is negotiable. You could spend an hour or you could plan to spend a day, but please be respectful of the professional’s time when making your request. On your initial phone call, determine if you might like your visit to include a departmental tour or perhaps a day long “job shadow” appointment.  These may be items that your contact person can arrange.  Also, regard the time together as a business appointment.  Dress should be business casualand you should be sure to have a planned set of questions to ask.

Questions can vary based on what you wish to learn.  Sample questions include: 
  • What are the best and worst things about this career? 
  • Why might someone leave this career? 
  • What are the things it takes to be great in this career? 
  • What is the smartest way to obtain training in this field?
An extensive list of possible informational interview questions is available here, but this is your chance to ask anything you'd like about your desired career. Plan to take notes while during your interview, being careful not to detract from the conversation. After your appointment, create an outline of themes from your questions asked. This can then carry you forward into next steps with your career exploration.

Now that you know about informational interviewing, get out there, do some networking, and make an appointment to speak with someone who is doing your dream job! 

Karen M. Lingrell, M Ed
Assistant Director of Collaborative Programs
USG eCore and eMajor


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