Remember, these alumni ASKED to be put in this group because they WANT to talk to you!
First, you must create a LinkedIn.com profile. You can just create a bare-bones profile for now, in order to access the alumni mentors. However, we've found that having a robust LinkedIn profile and using the service to its full capacity can greatly enrich your career development as well as assisting with your job search networking!
Once you have your LinkedIn profile, join the Tribe Connections subgroup. Here are some ways to get started:
Search for individual alumni within the group: Search by the alumni campus activity, their employer, career field, issues, etc. Send a message to individuals requesting an informational interview. (Don't ask people for jobs!)
Pose a question to the group as a whole: For general advice--such as, "How do I break into technical writing in the NYC area?"
The intent of this mentoring group is to facilitate alumni and students in building relationships with one another. These relationships start with Informational Interviews.
- DO research the field you're exploring so you have questions to ask.
- DO try to have a phone or in-person conversation; your goal is to build real, human relationships.
- DO schedule about 30 to 45 minutes for the interview and be aware of the time. Watch for cues that it's time to leave, such as glancing at a watch, or winding down a conversation.
- DO dress as if you're going to a job interview or as professionals in this type of work would dress. You don't want to embarrass yourself or your contact
- DO pay attention to your thoughts, body signals, and reactions during the interview. If you feel energetic and excited, this type of atmosphere may suit you. If you feel bored or tired, perhaps this isn't a match.
- DON'T ask for a job -- even if you are bursting to do so! You could, however, say something like this: "I really enjoyed meeting with you and learning about your television station and what a producer does. WGJX is the kind of setting where I would like to work. Do you know of stations with a similar work culture that I might contact?"
- DON'T book too many interviews back-to-back. Allow flexibility in case your contact chooses to spend more time with you or to introduce you to others.
- DON'T just talk about yourself. The more the contact talks about the job, the career steps and the field, the more you will learn. In fact, the whole idea is not to focus on yourself, but to talk about the contact.
- DO ask for names of more people to contact, and if it's okay to use his/her name when you contact others.
- DO write a thank-you note within two days of the interview, referring to any particularly helpful or thought provoking information the contact gave you.
Sample Informational Interview Questions
What preparation is necessary for entry- or mid-level jobs in this field?
How important is graduate school in this field?
Could you recommend some certifications or experiences that I should pick up preparation for a career in this field?
How does your education and experience relate to what you are doing now?
How did you get into this field and into this position? What are some alternative routes into the field? What kind of background, training, special programs or other learning experiences does one need to enter the field?
What professional journals, books, newspapers or publications do people in your field generally read? Are any professional associations particularly influential?
Is there any advice you would give someone just entering the field, maybe something that you wish someone had mentioned when you were starting?
What kind of "lifestyle" choices have you had to make? How many hours do you work in a typical week? Do you take work home at night?
Is travel involved in your job and if so, how often are you traveling?
What is the typical salary range for an entry-, mid-, and upper-level position?
Do you need to dress in a particular way?
Has your work experience differed very much from what you imagined it would be? In what way?
Do you anticipate employment in this field to grow, decrease, or remain stable?
What are the opportunities for advancement? Is there a high turnover rate and if so, why?
What types of employers hire people in your line of work?
You mentioned that you made a transition into this field from another career path. How difficult was this?
What job choices are there within this field and to what types of other organizations can one move?
Describe how you spend your time during a typical work day/week.
What major satisfactions do you derive from working in this field?
What are some of the issues/problems that you must deal with in your work?
(If you are interested in the company the alumnus is working for) Could you tell me a little about the management style here? How are promotions decided? What does one need in order to be successful in this field?
Job Search Techniques:
What strategies would you be using if you were in a job search for a position in this field?
Would you mind reviewing my resume and giving me feedback on it?
What types of questions should I expect when interviewing for a job in this field?
Could you give me the names of others who might tell me more about your field? May I say you suggested I contact them?
- Quaint Career's Informational Interviewing Tutorial - a thorough guide to informational interviewing.