Informational interviews offer a way for you to learn more about a major, career field, industry, or organization of interest!
You'll speak with someone who is already working in a career field of interest and ask them questions, gathering helpful information that can help you make important decisions. For example, if you're interested in research and unsure if you'd be most interested in working at a university, a national laboratory, or in industry, it would be helpful to speak to someone who represenents each of those environments – how did they choose their path, what do they love about their job, and what challenges do they exprerience?
Informational interviews are often conducted over the phone, a video chat platform, or in person. They can also be unplanned, as you may find yourself sitting next to someone interesting on an airplane, at an event, or in line.
Who do I interview?
You can ask to interview anyone, but many find it easiest to start with their immediate newtork, like family, family friends, and their friends' parents. Alumni also love staying in touch with the UVA community by offering tips and advice to current students. Learn various ways to connect with alumni below on this page.
What questions can I ask?
Most informational interviews are scheduled for 20-30 minutes, so select the questions you're most interested in learning about prior to the conversation. Check out the additional resources below for sample questions you might ask.
How do I end an informational interview?
Many students ask us how to maximize the experience. Instead of asking your set of questions and ending the conversation with a thank you, consider also asking for a referral to additional people of interest or opportunities you should explore. For example, "Sarah, thank you for your time today. I found your thoughts on X and suggestions for Y really helpful, and I'm going to give that more thought after our conversation. As I continue exploring the field, do you have a recommendation of someone else I might be interested in speaking with/organizations I should research and learn more about?"
By asking for referrals to other people or resources, you're continously expanding your network and opportunities.
Be sure to send a thank you email after the informational interview, and if you use the person's advice down the road, it's appropriate to check back in to let them know how much you valued their time and what decisions you've made.
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