I have my 50th Informational Interview Tomorrow. I started in Jan of 2012 and have expanded to over 25 companies, nationwide. I have met (in person) with Field Application Scientists, Product Managers, R&D Scientists, Business Unit/Development Managers, Project Managers, Tech Support Scientists, Sales Reps, Regional/District Sales Managers, Global Service Leaders, CEOs, Entrepreneurs, etc. The rest were phone interviews, which are still very useful. I have learned so much, that I cannot even begin to explain. I take notes at every interview and I learn something new from each person I talk to. Most people say why learn so much or why talk to so many people? The objective is to learn as much as you can, after all you are passionate about the potential position (you are clearly demonstrating your drive, initiative, and eagerness to learn). And I want to find the position that best suites me coming out of graduate school.
That’s why you ask a lot of questions, to obtain information and get all the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of a particular career. Also is it a stepping stone into another career? How do you make that transition? Informational interviews are also a great way to network. It’s a stress-free interview. Each person has a different personality and different experience. Therefore, no two stories are alike. And what you have to realize is that they were once in your shoes and have been through all the hardships of graduate school. Why not learn from someone who walked your path and knows all the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’? How did they make the transition away from the lab bench into a position that they truly enjoy? It’s a no-brainer. Almost like talking to your future self. Most are very willing to give you their time and meet over lunch or coffee. I had no idea how easy it would be once you get the ball rolling. You meet with one person, and they know two other people that you can talk to. And they’ll do the introduction for you, so they will be more inclined to see you in person. I will be writing later about how I got my first informational interview and from there it just grew beyond what I could ever imagine.
You can read more about informational interviews here.