For Students, Alumni, and Employers

Explore Career Options

The first step of field research is exploring different career options. Our list of career exploration websites can certainly assist you in this endeavor, but they can only give you part of the picture. You should try, whenever possible, to meet with people currently in the field or fields in which you are interested. Conduct informational interviews with them to gain a deeper perspective.

Informational Interviews

An informational interview is a meeting that you schedule with someone who works in an industry that you may be considering for future employment. This can help provide some insight into whether or not you would enjoy a certain type of job. This is simply a learning experience. It is also a chance to get in front of someone who might be able to help you in the future. During the meeting you will take notes on the buzzwords and concepts discussed.

What Are Other Benefits of an Informational Interview?

  • Help you decide if this field is right for you.
  • It will improve your interview skills and get you ready for the real thing.
  • Gain a contact for future employment.
  • You can learn what you are lacking and improve.

Who Should I Talk To?

Ask around and do some research. Determine what kind of job and industry interests you most. We provide students with assessment tests, counseling, and leads that are designed to help you find your area of interest. Once this is determined and you have an idea of what types of careers you want to explore, then ask friends, relatives, professors, and any other people who could possibly give you a contact name.

How Should I Make an Appointment?

Once you have a contact, you need to make an appointment with them. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Most informational interviews are about 30 minutes long. Be prepared with dates and times that you are available to meet with this person before you call. Remember this is a favor, so be flexible.
  • Make your motivation clear. Tell the person that you are not seeking employment, but are trying to learn more about different jobs to determine what you may want to look for the future.
  • If your contact person is unable to meet you, ask them if they could refer you to someone else. Ask for names and numbers.

Is There an Example of What I Should Say?

Hello, my name is            and I am currently a student at           , pursuing a degree in           . I am calling to find out more about the field of           . I am in the process of researching information using books and websites but at this point I think it would be best to interview someone actually working in (or as a)           . Is there a time when I could come down for 20–30 minutes and ask you a few questions as I proceed with trying to narrow down my career options?

How Should I Prepare for the Interview?

Although not as much rides on this type of interview, prepare for it like you would a job interview. It is very possible that the person you are interviewing may ask you some questions about yourself and your goals, so be prepared to answer questions such as "What is important to you in a job and what is not as critical?" or "What skills or qualities do you possess that would benefit you in this industry?"

Prepare a list of questions to ask them. Do not just ask the questions that you bring with you, but let them serve as a guide. Dress appropriately. A good first impression is essential. Polish your resume. The person you are interviewing may be able to provide some feed back on how well your resume presents you.

What Questions Should I Ask?

Sample Field Research Questions

What Should I Do After the Interview?

  1. Evaluate the interview. How do you feel you handled the interview? Were you well prepared? Take note of what questions were answered and what you may still need to find out.
  2. Send a thank you note within one day.
  3. Take advantage of any referrals you received and make an appointment to get another person's perspective.