Networking 101 – Informational Interviews

By: Zach

With the changing of the seasons hopefully just around the corner here in the Northland, it has many students thinking about change in their own life, myself included. Before we know it, another semester will be tacked on the board for most of the students here at UMD, but for a good few, it will be time to graduate and turn a big chapter in their lives. The achievement of graduating from university is huge, and all upcoming grads should be proud of what they have accomplished here at UMD!

For many like myself, graduation does not only signal a closing to my academic career, it also signals the beginning to my professional career. Indeed, a job in hand would be nice security right now, but what about the rest of us that are still on the hunt? My resume is polished up, my cover letter is well written, and I have even spent some good time updating my LinkedIn profile for prospective employers. If you are in the same spot as me, and have been applying to jobs as well, remember what many say is the key to finding a job… “It’s not always what you know, but who you know!”

Networking, networking, networking! You will be amazed at how this element to the job and internship search will send you leaps and bounds above the pack! So now you are asking, “Where do I start?” and “What should I do?” Job fairs and networking nights can always be a powerful medium to networking, but as you get more serious about your job search, there may be a more personal and successful way to meet and talk with professionals in your field of interest. This can be done through informational interviews!

Informational interviews can truly be the first step in landing a dream job. Not to get ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning. Though informational interviews have great potential of sprouting possible job opportunities, that is not their intentional purpose. These are conversations you initiate with professionals in your field of interest in order to learn more about what they do and the industry as a whole. These meetings help you learn more about your career of interest while also building an important professional relationship with someone that may have the power to bring you on to the team later on.

Search your field, and look for professionals that may be interesting to talk to. They may have a career path that interests you, or they may be employed by a company you would love to work for. This can be done with a quick Google search or better yet, through LinkedIn. Just send them a message and see if they have time for some coffee and questions, and most people are glad to share their story and insights with you. Just remember to communicate professionally, dress nicely, and show true interest and appreciation with the relationship you build.

For more information, we have great tips and advice in our UMD Career Handbook about informational interviews, so stop in the office and chat with a Peer Educator or check us out online to get more details! Thanks for tuning in!

Of possible interest: Using Informational Interviews as a Job Search Technique

Cheers, Zach

Read Zach’s other posts


7 thoughts on “Networking 101 – Informational Interviews

  1. […] Conduct an Informational Interview If there is a professional who you look up to or just want to know more about, consider asking them for an informational interview. An informational interview is also a great way to network and can provide you with a lot of useful information about a position or inner-workings of a company. When inviting a professional to an informational interview, ask if they would be able to meet at their office or perhaps at a local coffee shop. If you do schedule an informational interview, do come prepared! Research as much as you can about your interviewee and their company from what you can find on LinkedIn and/or the company website. If you aren’t confident in your LinkedIn skills, you can stop by the office (SCC 22) and work with one of our Peer Educators during our normal office hours (M-F, 8-4:30pm). Once you have a basic understanding of what they are about, you can ask questions to fill in the blanks. […]

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