Finding a Professional
Finding someone to interview or shadow is not difficult. Ask your parents and your friends’ parents if they know someone you can interview (do not interview a relative or someone you already know well). Ask your professors for recommendations of professionals in the field. Consider all of the people you know who may have contacts with someone in the field. If you are not able to locate someone on your own, staff in the O’Brien Center for Student Success will be glad to help you brainstorm some options.
Who Should I Interview?
Any knowledgeable person in your field of interest. The higher the person is in the company, the more information you will gather on a broader scale. If your interest is in a specific position, then locate someone in that particular position.
- Individuals in the field whose articles you may have read in a newspaper or magazine.
- People you may meet at a professional association meeting.
- Connections within your social media networks.
- College Alumni Network – LinkedIn: Merrimack has an alumni group on LinkedIn that current students can join. Join and browse the members list to see if any alumni work in your field of interest and consider reaching out to any of those who do. There’s also a “Find Alumni” function that allows you to find alumni based on where they live, where they work, and what they do.
How will I contact/interview this person?
Ideally, you will meet with someone in person for the interview. You may contact him/her initially by sending an introductory email or making a telephone call to set up the interview. Introduce yourself and tell them you would like to conduct an informational interview with them because… (they are well known in the field, they come highly recommended as someone who is influential the field, you are interested in their industry and want to explore, or they were recommended by _______). Always acknowledge that you know that they are very busy and that you are willing to work around their availability. People who like their jobs tend to enjoy talking about work. You compliment the professional by expressing an interest in the career. In your phone call or e-mail/letter, explain how you found the person you want to interview and request time for an appointment. Emphasize that you want to find out more about their career—you’re not looking for a job. If you’re lucky, the professional you contact may have other colleagues you can interview also.
When Should I Interview Someone?
Call or email the person you wish to interview with ample time to schedule a time for discussion. They will be more willing to be helpful to you if they have some flexibility about scheduling a time to meet.