Let’s face it: Graduating can be scary/intimidating/traumatizing/insert-your-own-word-to-demonstrate-panic.
But it’s also fantastic. It’s the turning point in your life. It’s the realization that the world is yours for the taking. It’s the defining moment that shows that you did it.
I can’t wait! There are only a few more months between me and that big stage. Until then, I’m constantly asked about my future plans. I’ve mentioned my response to the inevitable “So what’re you doing after you graduate?” question. What I haven’t talked about are my actions to compensate for not knowing. AKA informational interviews.
An informational interview is a proactive way of job hunting. I first learned about them through FSU’s Advertising Club and I can’t speak highly enough of them. They’re perfect for seniors trying to figure out what they want to do or where they want to be. They’re essentially interviews that you set up without an actual job opening; it’s a way for you to network, tour the agency, and get a sense of the company’s culture. Extra bonuses? You’re more in control (you plan it) and there’s less stress (one-on-one time).
The sad truth is that most people are unaware informationals exist. Many recruiters love to receive personal requests such as these. They show initiative and help you to stand out from the thousands of other candidates.
I’m going to be in New York for the Advertising Women of New York conference in two weeks and I’m in the process of scheduling informationals. While it has been a little stressful, it’s also a great feeling because I am taking control of my future. Sure, there may not be specific jobs open, but I’m making connections and learning about different agencies. Plus, have you seen an advertising agency?
Here are some tips for scheduling informationals!
1) Make a spreadsheet | You may know that I love spreadsheets. I love the simplicity and it helps to be able to see everything in one place. Google Spreadsheets are very user-friendly and you can highlight certain aspects like notes, locations, and reminders.
2) Use LinkedIn | We live in a digital age and times are constantly changing. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people and meet recruiters. Many people don’t take advantage of this amazing resource. After you’ve made a snazzy profile, go to the search bar and type the company name, the city, and the word “recruiter” or “HR.” You’ll instantly find multiple people who work at that company that you can potentially contact. If you’re lucky, they’ll include their email on their profile, but if they don’t, a simple Google search can sometimes do wonders!
3) Be professional | After you have the contact’s email, it’s important to request an informational in a polite way. Make sure you personalize each email to the specific company and don’t have any errors. When following up, refresh their memory of who you are and the times you’re requesting. A good rule of thumb is to avoid emailing after 6pm.
4) Research the company | You need to stand out among hundreds if not thousands of other applicants. Know your stuff! Do a quick Google search to see if they’ve been awarded any clients or have released any great work. It’ll show that you’re really invested in the company.
5) Be patient | Scheduling informationals takes time. Set aside enough time for them to respond because you don’t want to be scrambling to schedule them at the last minute. It’ll save you a lot of stress and show your organizational skills. Another important thing to remember is that you can only email one company at a time. (Try to imagine what would happen if you sent the same email to multiple companies and three companies want to meet you at the same time!)
Have you ever scheduled an informational interview? Do you have any other tips you’d like to share?