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College of Design

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How to Prepare for an Informational

Informational-Interview.jpegAlright guys, I'm going to break this down for you, but don't be scared because I promise, it is SUPER easy. And before I jump into that, I'll give you an itsy bitsy back story as to what's got my mind on Informational Interviews...

I've been thinking about informationals for just about all of winter break. Now that the holidays are officially over, people are back in their offices and I am ready to get some face (or phone) time with professionals out there in the industry. Specifically, I have an informational coming up with a professional working at a local architecture firm that also has a hand in interior design. I should also mention that I got connected with her through a different informational I did back in October. There's a theme with informational interviews -- they get you connected. The things you learn supplement the things you learn in a classroom and then go beyond.

So about those steps...

1) ASK!
When it comes to informational interviews, the first thing you need to know is that they won't find you, you need to find them (in the begining at least). You need to be active and avid. There are plenty of professionals out there in any industry willing to meet for informational interviews, but your job is to stand out because there are also plenty of students and recent grads asking for them. Usually, ways of asking can include following up via email if you meet a professional at an event (where you cleverly asked for a business card), asking your career center or professors, or checking out LinkedIn. If you have firms that stand out to you, feel free to email someone working there and ask who you should get in touch with. Ultimately, asking won't hurt, the worst thing that will happen is a person won't respond. You know what you do from there? You move on and ask someone else. Maybe in a few weeks or month you can try again with that other person.

Once you land your interview (and you will), do some reasearch! Check out the firm's website, look them up on LinkedIn, see if anything noteable pops up when you Google them. Make sure that when you go in, you know some things about the person or the firm that the person works for. You don't need to have all the answerers (that's why this is an interview), but it's nice to have some info you can springboard from. The rest will come when you start asking your questions.

Think about what you want to ask and talk about. Is there specific information you would like to know about that person, a project they worked on, or the industry in general? Is there any advice you're dying to get? Jot it all down, or better yet, type it all up and print a neat "cheat sheet" of questions and topics. This is good because even when your interviewer sees this, it just shows them that you are well prepared, organized, and that you respect their time. Another few things to think about in the preparation stage include your outfit and transportation. Usually you'll go buisness casual for something like this and you can check out Metro Transit if your interview is in the city and you need to take the bus.

Yup guys, I mean it. The last step is to be awesome. Go into that interview, chit chat, ask your questions, and show them you're a great person. Now I mean this subtly because the purpose of this interview is not to sell yourself, but rather to learn about them. But you are spending time with them and they are spending time with you so make a good impression because these days who you know can bring you a long way.

So I know that was a lot, but if you have questions, leave comments! I promise I'm here to help. And if this was helpful, bookmark this post.

Until the next,
Interior Design