Insight on Informational Interviews

With graduation only three weeks away (eeek!) I’ve begun putting more effort into my job search. Yesterday, I went on my first informational interview at a Center City Philadelphia agency. It was a great experience and made me excited to complete more of these interviews and learn more about the industry. The best thing about my first informational interview is that it really helped me get to know myself even more.

I expected that we’d be talking about the career of the PR pro that I met with and was surprised when the first half of the interview was focused on my personal passions and interests. This helped me put my job search into perspective. I realized that I had been too focused on getting a job and not focused enough on what I want that job to be. We didn’t begin to speak about the job search until the second half of the interview when I asked him more about himself and his career. Though this interview was completely different from what I expected, it was also much better than I expected!

The most influential thing that I took away from yesterday’s interview was that I need to relax and go with the flow. At 22, most grads don’t have a clue what they REALLY want to do, so the key is to find your passion, find organizations that align with that passion and find key people in those organizations that can help you get where you need to go. As a graduate with a bachelors degree most of us feel like we’re failing if we don’t get a full-time job out of school. It’s important to remember that internships and volunteer opportunities are key to building your network and finding that first job. These opportunities are just as valuable after graduation as full-time employment. When you find the key people in the organizations that interest you, the best way to make a first impression is to offer your help. Volunteer to work an event or help coordinate other volunteers. This extra effort can really pay off because it will build your credibility as a professional and your network will continue to grow.

If volunteering isn’t for you and you choose to keep actively seeking employment, don’t just send an e-mail with your resume. Gaining an employment opportunity takes more effort than just clicking ‘send’ and giving up. Find a way to make yourself stand out. Make sure you’re contacting the right people with your resume and learn a bit about them (yes, find out their name!) before sending that e-mail. Use creativity to make yourself memorable, and you’ve got a better chance at beating out all of those other grads for the job. The wackier idea, the better. In PR, anything goes when you’re job hunting. Instead of talking about your creativity and writing ability in an interview, use it to show them first hand what you’re capable of. It will probably put you at the top of the pack.

I hope that some of these insights will help you with your job or internship search. What is the most creative thing you’ve done to get a job? I’d love for you to share your tips and tricks!

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