First-generation students should use information interviewing as part of their job search was originally published on College Recruiter.
One of the disadvantages that a first-generational student has when searching for a part-time, seasonal, internship, or entry-level job is a lack of a built-in network. Given that their parents didn’t go to college, it is less likely that they’ll know people who went to college, successfully completed internships, and perhaps are even in a position to hire them. Not impossible, but less likely.
Those people who can help are what comprise your network. So if your network has fewer of those people, then your network isn’t going to be as powerful as the network of a friend of yours whose parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and others went to college, successfully completed internships, and perhaps are even in a position to hire you. One way of overcoming that is to pursue information interviews.
According to Wikipedia,
An Informational Interview (also known as an informational meeting, coffee chat, or more generically, networking) is a conversation in which a person seeks insights on a career path, an industry, a company and/or general career advice from someone with experience and knowledge in the areas of interest. Informational interviews are often casual and candid conversations where both parties are focused simply on acquiring and sharing knowledge. They can also be formal if the knowledge seeker is a job seeker and the knowledge provider is a potential employer whose goal is not only to provide information to the job seeker, but also to learn about the job seeker and judge their professional potential and corporate fit.
Knowledge seekers use informational interviews to gather information on an industry and on specific companies where they might want to work, explore career paths, uncover job opportunities, and expand their professional network. Knowledge providers use informational interviews to share their knowledge and lend a helping hand, expand their professional network and meet potential employees and business partners.
Informational interviews differ from job interviews because the conversation is not about hiring and not about a specific job. The knowledge seeker asks general questions about an industry, company or career path, and the knowledge provider has an opportunity to learn about the knowledge seeker’s character and qualifications outside of a formal job interview process. Thus, informational interviews help overcome a problem in recruiting/job-seeking processes, where each side may be hesitant to talk to the other because they are uncertain about whether they might be wasting their time with an unqualified candidate or unsuitable workplace. Informational interviews provide a “non-threatening forum” for discussion as the two sides learn about each other.
Christy Noel, career strategist and author of “Your Personal Career Coach: Real-World Experiences for Early Career Success” and “Your Career Survival Guide: How to Get and Keep a Job in Times of Crisis“, is a big proponent of first-generation students using informational interviews to build their networks and increase their chances of landing a great part-time, seasonal, internship, or entry-level job. “I recommend college graduates looking for career opportunities and learning about career paths to request informational interviews. Informational interviews are a terrific tool to learn about industries, companies, and positions, before you accept a job and discover it’s not what you thought it was going to be.”
“In addition,” continued Noel, “you don’t have to have a large network in order to secure Informational Interviews. Many professionals will happily jump on a Zoom or phone call to answer questions you have and share what they’ve learned. Informational Interviews don’t always lead to jobs, the goal is to learn not pitch yourself for a job, but they do open the door to new contacts that may lead to an opportunity. Be sure to ask at the end of your Informational Interview if the person you are speaking to has anyone they recommend you talk to for another Informational Interview to learn more about the industry/role/company you are exploring.”