The Benefits from Talking to People!
WOW, I had No Idea How Much You Could Learn from Talking to People! The Importance of Meeting the Professionals Who Can Help Your Young Adult Pursue His/Her Career Dreams
Throughout my 30 years as a Career Coach I have been asked repeatedly, “How do I “motivate” my clients?” The easy answer is, “It’s not only me!” What does motivate anyone searching for their dream career is to actually see their future. Once a career seeker discovers his or her ideal job they will do all they need to do to get there! How do they do this? Information Interviews!
This process, first documented by Richard Bolles in his book, What Color Is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, involves conducting Information Interviews. Many people don’t know that Richard Bolles wrote his best selling book after leaving his career as an Episcopalian Priest. He spent the next two years interviewing anyone and everyone about their career path. He coined the term “Information Interview” to describe an interview for career information and advice — the process of “trying on jobs to see if they fit you.”
He notes, “Most people choose a career path without taking the time to speak with professionals in their field of interest. As a result, they find themselves in careers that are not a true match for their skills, values, interests, and abilities. Information interviews give you the opportunity to conduct the screening process before accepting a position.”
These Information Interviews are crucial to the career decision-making process! Unlike other types of job interviews, an Information interview is an interview that you initiate — you ask the questions. The purpose is to get information, not to get the job.
They not only provide information important to a career field, they also involve:
- Learning about the career path of the person being interviewed
- Talking about the various ways to acquire the skills, training, and experience needed to succeed in the career field
- Seeing the actual work environment
- Sharing other contacts in the career field
- Getting advice about how to enter the field
This step is so important once the Young Adult completes a self-assessment. I enjoy matching the students with professionals we know — who like and enjoy meeting, talking, and sharing their valuable career information with interested young people.
Below is a Young Adult who can describe her hands-on experiences with the Information Interviewing process much better than I can!
My name is Kate and I am 27 years old. I have just returned to the United States after living several years in Santiago, Chili.
Having been told it didn’t really matter what my major was in college, I leafed through the UC Berkeley course catalog as a freshman and decided that Peace and Conflict Studies looked interesting. Four years later, I had my degree and absolutely no idea what to do with it!! I ended up at a medical device startup company where I had been an intern in college. Once I’d become bored with the job I was in, I decided to pursue a master’s at Harvard in International Education Policy — again having little knowledge of whether I’d actually enjoy the career for which the program was to prepare me.
After spending some time abroad, I have decided to reenter the Medical Device Industry, but this time I’ve been conducting Information Interviews to see which positions best suit my skills, interests, and abilities. Had I known to do Information Interviews earlier, I might have saved myself the rather expensive (albeit fun) detour into education and be farther along in my career by now. As it turns out, all I would have had to do was walk down the hall at the medical device company where I was already working and talk to some folks in Regulatory Affairs or Marketing to understand that these fields were a much better fit to my personality and interests!
The people I have interviewed in the medical device field so far have provided valuable advice, both on how to transition back into the medical device industry and on where to go once I’ve done so. Everyone has been incredibly generous with their time — not only in the initial interview but afterwards as well, checking in on my job search, alerting me to openings, offering feedback on my resume, and providing kind words of support.
When I started conducting Information Interviews I knew they would give me a clearer picture of the kind of career I want; but as I’ve spoken with more and more people in the field, I’ve realized that I’m also learning things that will help me actually get the job I want. Things like learning the specific vocabulary and acronyms people in the field use and which specific skills are looked for in prospective employees.
Really, there’s no downside to doing Information Interviews. I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know people in the field and learning about all the possible paths that I can take to a fulfilling career.
There is a vast world of work out there in this country, where at least 111 million people are employed in this country alone—- many of whom are bored out of their minds. All day long. — Richard Bolles
Richard Bolles has also teamed up with Carol Christen, a Career Strategist and Jean Blomquist, a College Counselor, to come out with this great guide to help teens zero in on their favorite skills and apply that knowledge to get the most out of school, set goals, and pursue their dreams. What-Color-Is-Your-Parachute-for-Teens