Breaking down the wall between student and career person, and finally leaving the comfort of the classroom is no easy feat. You spend your college years sat behind a desk, taking in as much knowledge as you can, preparing yourself for your dream career. Graduation comes and goes before you know it, and you’re finally ready to jump into the workforce.Okay, now what?
*Initiate panic-induced career breakdown.*
Alright, remain calm. Before you let yourself get to that point, it is important to realize that your career starts in college, not after. Your college years don’t have to be spent behind your desk, in fact, they shouldn’t. Inside those walls is where you start building your toolkit for success. Things like a functional resume, an impressive portfolio and an ever growing network are just the beginning. But how can you take the next step toward career readiness? Two words: Information Interview.
The information interview was the most enlightening part of my college experience so far. Having the opportunity to pick the brain of a professional in the industry that is living my career dream was invaluable. I was able to get a better understanding of not only their specific position, but also the industry in general. Career knowledge, reassurance, clarity and networking are all amazing benefits of this opportunity, and it all starts with an email.
Finding your interview target and contacting them is the most intimidating part of the process. As I searched industry professionals in the area it became more clear what I was searching for.
Here’s how I completed this step, but there are many ways you can go about this:
- I researched local advertising agencies and what positions each company held.
- After researching the job titles that sounded interesting to me, I was able to narrow down my search to professionals in the social media sector of digital marketing and went from there.
- Once I had a specific target selected, I first sent an email explaining who I was, why I was hoping to meet with them, and explained that I would be following up with a phone call to discuss things further.
- The next morning, I contacted my target via phone to confirm that she received my email and answer any questions she had.
- After explaining the situation in full, she was more than willing to allow me to pick her brain.
I knew going into this process that I wanted to get into digital marketing, but wasn’t 100% sure where I wanted to go with it. After all of my research, I discovered how interested I am in social media, and was lucky enough to meet with Sarah Witiuk, the Social Media Manager at the branding and marketing agency RedTrain here in Kingston. I chose Sarah because she not only had the title that I hope to have someday, but I had also found that her position at RedTrain was created just because the company wanted her as part of their team. I find this incredibly inspirational. She was so knowledgable in her field and impressed them so much that they did whatever they had to to have her as part of their team, and that is the kind of person I want to be.
The Follow Up
As previously mentioned, growing your network is a huge benefit of this process, and following up is an important part of keeping them in your professional network. After the interview I made sure to connect with Sarah on LinkedIn, as well as sent a thank-you card to show my appreciation for her time. I will also be reconnecting with her in the near future to talk more and keep that professional connection strong.
My Information Interview left me with a lot of valuable information and advice for my career. Such as:
- Social Media Managers are very busy people!
- Every experience matters, no matter how big or small.
- There is a difference between being busy and productive. “Being busy is doing stuff. Being productive is getting stuff done.”
- Update your Personal Branding Statement every three months. You are always changing and learning.
- If you feel like you’re not learning anything, take control of the situation.
The information interview is something that I will continue to do even after graduation. There is always room to learn new things and discover new opportunities you had never considered before, and that is exactly what these interviews help you do best.