Have you wondered what it might be like to be an Emergency Nurse? How about a Computer Programmer?  If you are gleaning all of your knowledge of what a Crime Scene Investigator actually does from watching reruns of CSI, you may encounter a rude awakening when you go for your education and actually land yourself in that job.

Informational interviewing is a foundational step within career exploration. While you are in your own investigative place as a student you would be wise to conduct informational interviews of people within the potential careers/jobs that you think you might enjoy. The informational interview communicates the first-hand experiences and impressions of someone in the occupation, and is directed by your questions. 

Steps to conducting an interview of this type consist of:

1. Identifying a person who is currently employed within the field.
2. Calling to request a visit with them while they are on the job.  

The amount of time together is negotiable. You could spend an hour or you could plan to spend a day, but please be respectful of the professional’s time when making your request. On your initial phone call, determine if you might like your visit to include a departmental tour or perhaps a day long “job shadow” appointment.  These may be items that your contact person can arrange.  Also, regard the time together as a business appointment.  Dress should be business casualand you should be sure to have a planned set of questions to ask.

Questions can vary based on what you wish to learn.  Sample questions include: 
  • What are the best and worst things about this career? 
  • Why might someone leave this career? 
  • What are the things it takes to be great in this career? 
  • What is the smartest way to obtain training in this field?
An extensive list of possible informational interview questions is available here, but this is your chance to ask anything you'd like about your desired career. Plan to take notes while during your interview, being careful not to detract from the conversation. After your appointment, create an outline of themes from your questions asked. This can then carry you forward into next steps with your career exploration.

Now that you know about informational interviewing, get out there, do some networking, and make an appointment to speak with someone who is doing your dream job! 

Karen M. Lingrell, M Ed
Assistant Director of Collaborative Programs
USG eCore and eMajor
What is your home institution and major?
Currently, I attend Valdosta State University, and I am pursuing a degree in Organizational Leadership.

How many eMajor courses have you taken?
To date, I've taken 7 courses with eMajor.

Why is completing your college degree important to you?
 I think a college degree is a necessity in today's society. The job market is extremely competitive, and so many of my peers are seeking top notch positions. When I look back on my life, I want to know I finished everything I started; I want to check the box on paperwork that asks if I graduated. If I do not finish, that box will haunt me with any application I submit: Mortgage, jobs, insurance, etc.

When is your expected graduation date?
My expected graduation date is June of 2015,  however, I am completing a concentration in Public Administration. This will be complete in December of 2015. Go big or go home.

What are your career goals?
Currently, I work in Human Resources. My goals include finishing this degree and moving to a Master’s program. I hope to obtain the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification as well.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I first wanted to be Batman. When I found out that was not a possibility, I dabbled in multiple majors or career paths. No matter what major I would choose, I realized everything came back to people. Every path came back to assisting others. So... This is why I work in Human Resources and seek a degree in Leadership.

What eMajor class has been your favorite and what class are looking forward to the most?
So far, I really appreciated ACE2050 (Communications for Business). This course touched tremendously on the tasks that I complete on a day to day basis. The information accurately depicted the things everyone will need in the workforce. Also, it reviewed certain grammatical skills that one may forget over time. The refresher definitely increased my confidence with professional writing. I most look forward to ENGL 3030 (Professional Writing). Two reasons: First, this is my last English course. Second, I feel this will make my writing even better.

How would you describe the instructors you’ve had in your eMajor classes?
 I have so many friends who seek a degree but opt out because of nerves. I had friends explain horror stories of professors who were unjust. I've yet to experience this in eMajor. Every professor has executed all courses with understanding and offered assistance in any way possible. I've had the most pleasurable experience.

Besides being a college student, what do you spend your time doing?
 When I am not working or working on homework, I really love restoring trash objects into treasure. For instance, turning an old dresser into a Pottery Barn inspired television stand. I also love to spend time with friends and family. Also, I really love sport and especially college football and NASCAR.

How and when do you make time to spend on your school work?
I worked full time while I completed 19 semester hours. I earned a GPA of 3.9. People look at me as if I'm an alien or not human. The fact is, I am human. When I'm on lunch break at work, I read the chapters. I take several road trips with friends, and I write my papers in the back seat between destinations. Also, I push myself to do school Monday through Friday, so I still have a social life on weekends. I think the key in maintaining homework is to stay ahead. I sit every Monday and map out any assignments due and create a schedule. I think about what I can do even if I am not on the computer. I use technology to my advantage. I can access the site from my mobile phone or IPad. This saves so much time while posting discussion posts, etc.

Who or what inspires you and why?
Abraham Lincoln stated, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." I believe if I want a comfortable life and career, short term sacrifices equal long term happiness. The thought of vacationing in the Caribbean, buying a dream home, and my family make me strive to be the best I can be. I can't change the past, but I can change my future. I push myself and try to set an example for younger siblings.