Want A Job When You Graduate? Do This.

Everybody knows that it is important to have good role models in your life. As a student trying to figure out what the world has to offer and what your interests are, it is especially important meet not only need good role models, but also professional mentors, people who can offer advice to you in terms of what is actually out there in terms of education choices, career choices, and straight up life choices.

One of the most valuable things for a student to do now is to start talking with people, making meaningful connections with people who can be mentors through conducting informational interviews, The most important thing you should do as a student if you want a job when you graduate.

What is an informational interview?

An informational interview is a casual, non-threatening conversation with an industry professional aiming to gather insight about a specific field or career. Think of it as a date, but instead of getting romance, you're getting a career - pretty cool right?

Here’s the benefit of conducting these types of interviews with industry professionals as a student – you are not a threat. You won’t come across as an unemployed sucker, desperately trying to save yourself and beg anyone for a job – you are simply a student, doing a research project, there to ask some questions. And people love to talk about themselves. So, reach out to your industry crushes, buy them a coffee, and pick their brains!

Who do you interview?

When figuring out who you want to interview, first think about yourself. What are your current interests? Who do you want to be in 10 years? 20 years? What field are you interested in? What position? Make a list of people you think could offer expertise on these interests, careers and interests and go from there.

If the idea of reaching out to somebody is scary, start easy by reaching out to someone you know. Maybe it's your manager or a team member at one of you past or current co-op placements, a family member or friend of a friend.

What questions do you ask?

Start by thanking the person for their time and explaining what you would like to get out the interview, this will help structure the interview, avoid rambling on about irrelevant topics will connect a few common interests that you can continue to discuss and learn more about.

To kick off the interview, ask them about what they did to get them to where they are today.

Part one: Career History

What did you study in post-secondary? How did your career path take you to this job with this company? What attracted you to this career? If you could go back and do anything differently on this career path, what would you do?

Getting to know a professional’s career history will help you envision what steps you might need to take to get you to your dream job. They will take you back in time to when they were in your shoes, a student who has no clue what they want to do with themselves.

Part two: About the job

What is the workplace culture like? What's a day in the life like? Do you like working in the (insert city here) area? What previous experiences (both work-related and other) have you found helped you the most to excel in this position? How would you describe someone who would excel in this career? What personality traits would they have? What do you enjoy most about this job? What do you find most rewarding? What would surprise people? Why do you think you got hired?

If the person you are interviewing describes a day in the life that seems like a dream too and also describes an ideal candidate for the job that sounds like you, consider exploring this path more! On the other hand, if what they describe to you sounds like a living nightmare, maybe consider something else…

Part three: Future talk

How do you see this job changing in the next 10 years? What kind of work/activity should I be doing right now to help me on this career path? What kind of work samples should my portfolio have? Where should I be, what city should I live in to pursue this kind of work? What is a typical entry-level title? Who else would you recommend I speak with to learn more about this career?

At this point, the person you are interviewing has talked about themselves a lot – now it’s time for you to get some solid advice that may help shape your future. Most importantly, before the interview ends, ask who they might recommend you speak to next to learn more - this is how you can expand your circle and start talking to professionals you don't know! Make sure you thank the person for their time and make an effort to stay in touch.

After the Interview

After the interview, write down your main takeaways from the conversation, and follow up with the person. People love to help others, so stay in touch with your new role model! Add them on LinkedIn, and go the extra mile by sending them a message thanking them again, specifically mentioning a helpful tip they gave you during the interview that you are especially grateful for. This shows you take the relationship seriously, and can help strengthen the connection you made.

Knowing what to look for is the first part of the job search, so get out there, do some research, and build some relationships, who knows where your connections will take you!