How to do an information interview
As a former university admissions officer and academic advisor, I know the value of good career exploration. High school students who engage in meaningful career exploration before entering university are generally more focused and successful at university than those who don't engage in career exploration. It's as simple as that.
Students make better program and university choices when they make those choices based on real and recent information. One of the best ways to get real and recent information on potential careers is by doing information interviews with people in those careers.
An information interview is an informal conversation with someone who works in a career you think you might like to pursue. As the interviewer, you ask questions to gather information from the person about their career.
An information interview is not a job interview; it is a tool you use to research possible careers, and to discover potential pathways to get into that career area. It’s also a way to begin to build a network of people who could help you with a job search, when that time comes.
There's not much that's positive about this global pandemic we're in, but one of the small benefits of it is that some of us have a bit more time to do things we usually didn't have time to do. Without extra-curricular activities, many students have more time, and many adults are working from home, and some have a more flexible schedule because of that. So, this is an excellent time for students to contact people to do information interviews.
Normally, information interviews are done at the person's place of work. The student gets to see the person's work environment, which is a great way for the student to get a "feel" for the job. Unfortunately, we don't have that ability right now. But, the fact that we're all at home and online can actually make it easier for people to take some time to do an information interview with a student. So, this is actually a good time to request an interview.
I don't just talk the talk. My son is in grade nine. He wants to work with computers. I asked my friends to suggest people they knew who had a computer science background and who had interesting jobs, and who would be willing to take 30 minutes to be "interviewed" by son.
In the past two weeks, he did a virtual information interview with a software engineer at a gaming company, and another with a project manager who worked at IBM. In addition to finding out about their current jobs, he asked them about their education and career pathways. They gave him advice on what career areas he might like to check out. He really enjoyed the experience and it gave him specific information he probably couldn't find any other way. And, the interviewees enjoyed speaking with an enthusiastic young person. Win - win all around!
So, here's the opportunity: help your child invest time into the most useful and valuable of career exercises -- the information interview. Do it now while there is time.
I've created an Information Interview Guide for you. It has everything you need to know about how to do an information interview, including a list of questions your child can ask, and an email script they can use to request an interview.
Here's the link to download the guide:
I hope it's useful to help your child make an informed decision about their future!
Want to learn more about how I can help you win scholarships? Please visit my services page.
About the author
Janet MacDonald is a Scholarship Coach with mycampusGPS Education Consulting. She is a former Canadian university admissions officer. For seven years, she was the coordinator of a scholarship program at a major Canadian university. Janet has helped her student clients win hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships.