Many students feel anxious about approaching a professional and requesting an informational interview. Most of the time, their anxiety is eased when they find professionals are often willing to spend time with students who are seeking to clarify their career goals. Most people feel a professional responsibility to provide information about their career that might help others.
You may have someone in mind that you would like to interview. If you are having difficulty finding an appropriate person to interview, consider asking family, friends, faculty, or your Career Center Advisor for suggestions. Try to interview someone who has a position you would someday like to hold in a similar type of organization to those you are considering.
When contacting a professional to set up an informational interview, be sure to mention that you are not seeking a job, but instead are seeking information about their career field. If you have been referred to that person by a friend or colleague, mention that person’s name so that your contact is aware of who sent you.
You may want to call a person directly to set up an interview, in which case you may encounter a “gatekeeper” (a secretary or assistant whose job it is to reduce the workload and interruptions for the person you are calling). Be sure the gatekeeper understands you are seeking career advice, not a job interview. Otherwise, the gatekeeper will likely try to route you to Human Resources, the area that handles job applicants.
Another approach to setting up an interview is to write an introductory letter to the person with whom you’d like to meet. In your letter, explain your interest in their occupation and desire to learn more about the contact’s career path. Tell the contact you will call within the week to see if a meeting can be scheduled, and then follow through. Do not ask the contact to call you; it is your responsibility to handle the details of the meeting.