Exploring health care careers can be quite the undertaking if you are unsure which area you intend to pursue. There are many clinical and non-clinical career paths to choose from and it is important to have insight into each area of interest so you can make the most informed decision possible. Informational interviews are an often overlooked, but highly informative way to gain insight into careers you might be interested in. It starts with reaching out to a professional who is working in the career you want to know more about for a meeting, phone call or video chat session. Informational interviews are intentional and you should be prepared with 5-7 questions. Your questions should focus on their career path (how they got to where they are today), their day-to-day schedule, issues facing the profession, work/life balance, skills and attributes needed to do well in the profession and advice they would have for individuals pursuing a career in this area. We asked Emily Rudicel, a sophomore pursuing a degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences about her experience with informational interviews.
Q: How did you hear about informational interviews?
A: “I had never heard of an informational interview before coming to college. I wasn’t exposed to it at all until my freshman year, where I had to conduct an informational interview for one of our assignments in my student success seminar. My professor explained the goal of the interview was to help those of us who were undeclared or undecided at the time narrow down a career path. I already knew that I wanted to be a speech therapist, but I wanted to learn more specifically about the different areas of speech pathology.”
Q: How did you find the person you wanted to interview?
A: “Gwen Nolan, Assistant Clinical Professor in SHP’s Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Department, presented in one of my classes about her career as a speech therapist in a hospital, which I found extremely interesting. I wanted to know more about what the daily schedule and the lifestyle looked like for a speech therapist, so I decided to ask her for an interview. She was incredibly helpful and eager to pass on her knowledge and expertise.”
Q: How did you prepare for the informational interview?
A: “I researched any information about the position that was easily accessible so I could form more in-depth questions. From that research, I prepared a list of about a dozen questions to reference during my interview. Then I emailed her and introduced myself, and asked if she had time to sit down in her office and answer some questions I had about her career.”
Q: What did you gain from conducting the informational interview?
A: “The experience of doing an informational interview was very beneficial for me. It allowed me to improve my professional etiquette, communication skills and self-confidence. The experience gave me insight into what a speech therapist is and what their career goals look like. It also helped me figure out what career setting would best fit my personal lifestyle. Professor Nolan told me that this job required her to be on call or stay late at times. That was a bit of a turn off for me, and I learned that I wanted something that adhered more consistently to a 9 to 5 schedule. It was an amazing networking opportunity as well. Professor Nolan shared information about upcoming programs and volunteer opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. Overall, it was a really great experience and I learned a lot.”
Q: Did you do any follow up with her? How so?
A: “After our interview, I sent Professor Nolan an email to thank her for her time and express my gratitude in a professional manner. She took time out of her day to meet and talk with me and I wanted to show my appreciation.”
Q: What advice do you have for other students regarding informational interviews?
A: “My advice is to just try it out once. I know it might seem intimidating at first, but it is totally worth it. Most people want to help prospective students find their passion. They want to pass on their knowledge and experiences so you know what to expect in the future if you decide to pursue that career. I know I had a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend informational interviews to everyone, even if you are sure you know what your career goals are.”
If you would like more information and resources on informational interviews you can visit: https://career.missouri.edu/making-the-most-of-summer-informational-interviews/
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