So you’re here on a Disney internship and you know you want to stay and build a career at the company. You have an idea where you would like to work, but you’re still not sure, what can you do? We hear time and time again that we all need to network and build relationships, but how should you get started?
A great place to start is an Informational Interview.
What is an informational interview? It’s a conversation with someone who works in a field that interests you. It’s a way to gain information from them about what they do, how they achieved their current role and advice they can share for someone just starting their career. You can find out about potential career paths, what they’re looking for when they hire someone on their team and you will have another contact in your network!
How can I get started? Ask your leader, or people you already know for a contact in the department you’re interested in. Reach out by phone or email and ask for 10-30 minutes of their time. Explain that you are an intern looking for advice in their particular field.
How to prepare: Be prepared and dress the part. You want to treat this as an interview with your goal as gathering insight and impressing them with your readiness and your skills. Dress professionally and have questions ready to go. Give them a brief summary of what you’re looking to do and ask relevant questions. Be respectful of their busy schedules and don’t go over the scheduled meeting time! Make a good first impression…you’ll never get a second chance to!
What should I ask? Do your research, find out what they do and decide what you want to learn from them. Based on the amount of time you have, figure out what information is most important to gain during the conversation.
You might want to ask about their career progression, about the required training or education needed for the role, what they look for in a potential hire, and what steps they would recommend for someone starting in this field.
Ask about the soft skills that make someone successful or what types of personal attributes they look for on their team.
Ask for other contacts. Hopefully, they can set you up with someone for your next informational interview.
Don’t forget…there are two people in this meeting. They may also have some questions for you. Be prepared to answer questions they might have about what you want out of your career!
Ending the meeting: Be thankful! Recap any learning and follow-up with actions they recommended to you. Send a thank you note – it’s the right thing to do. Ask if you can stay in touch and provide updates on anything that was discussed in your meeting.
The informational interview allows face-to-face interaction with a leader in your career field. Even if they don’t have an open position now, they might have one at some point. Treat this meeting as if you are interviewing for a role in their department. The informational interview will provide additional contacts for your network, a greater understanding of your industry of choice and hopefully a referral or even a job someday!
Good luck and remember that “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t!” –Bill Nye