Your Secret Weapon: Informational Interviews

by Amber Hughes

Whether you’re in the application process or already rocking it out at your internship, informational interviews should be locked and loaded in your internship toolbox. The benefits these golden moments hold are endless – they show you take your career seriously and are ambitious, a new contact (hello, networking!), behind the scenes tips from an insider, dos and don’ts from someone who has been there, interview practice, hear first-hand experiences… the list doesn’t stop. Whether you have a few of these babies under your belt already or you may be wondering how the heck you go about conducting one of these, these tips will catapult you from a novice to an informational interview all-star.

What is an informational interview?

*Raises hand up slowly* “Uh, what is an informational interview?”. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. An informational interview is a meeting with a professional in an industry to discover more about them and their career path. In simple terms, you’re picking someone’s brain. Why? Other people are a goldmine of information. Conducting informational interviews can help you explore corporate culture, gain valuable career advice, and discover industries and departments within a company without interning at each one. Remember, everything is what you make it. Go in with a goal and go get ’em, tiger!

Don’t be afraid to ask.

Amber at WBR

We’ve all heard it before but it stands true – if you never ask, you’ll never know! What have you got to lose by asking someone for coffee or 15 minutes to chat about their day? Nothing! You can only benefit from asking someone to an informational interview. Remember though, these are professionals, so they do have busy schedules. You want to ask them for a quick sesh – try something like “Can I buy you a quick cup of coffee and chat when you have time?” or “Do you have a few minutes in your day to put aside and chat? I’d love to learn more about what you do”.

Setting it up.

Now that you’ve selected a lucky winner, keep a few things to keep in mind as you set it up. Do your research to see if they can be reached directly or through an assistant and be sure to cc both on your email so everyone is on the same page (HR can help here). Depending on the size of the company a quick in-office meeting may be preferred over coffee at an outside joint. Remember, keep it brief! Keep your invite short but sweet – lay out who you are and that you would like to do an information interview at their convenience and throw in a compliment or two!

Be prepared.

You won’t believe me when I say this, but, finally, those online creeping skills we all have (shush, don’t deny it) come in handy. Research who you’re interviewing online. LinkedIn is the sweet spot, but don’t overlook any interviews they may have done in the past, any press and accolades. This research not only shows you’re a power player and are ready to knock it out of the park, but it saves time to cut to the good stuff. Doing research saves you time in the interview to ask better, hard-hitting questions than going over things you could have found online. Also, use this information to frame your questions!

Remember, informational interviews are only one bad boy in your internship toolbox (did someone say personal branding on LinkedIn??). To quote one of those cute Pinterest inspo’s, “The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as being heard”. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask someone to chat. You got this!! Sound off below with tips of your own or your experiences!

Rock n’ roll baby,

– amber

Amber Hughes is a senior at Emerson College in her second semester interning with WMG in Burbank, CA. She is currently an Marketing intern at Warner Bros. Records and was a Rhythmic Promotions intern with Roadrunner Promotions at Atlantic Records in our Burbank office the semester before. She loves emo music and is/always will be obsessed with My Chemical Romance. #EmoNeverDies

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