Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Why Informational Interviews are Great for SAHMs

When I started talking with a life coach, one of the things that she asked me to do was set up an informational interview, which I didn't really want to do because I was kind of scared.

For me the context of information interview came from What Color is Your Parachute, where the author is basically like, "call somebody up that you want to know, ask them for a few minutes of their time" and then grill them on everything related to their job. Not really my cup of tea, I just feel bad bothering people and asking for favors.

However, my life coach kept bringing it up and not wanting to reveal that I wasn't planning on doing it if left on my own, I agreed to let her contact a friend in the career field I was interested. (In retrospect, I was curious about the industry enough that I had mentioned it during our sessions probably more than once.)

Well, once the emails started flying, it finally clicked that this was really going to go down. When we scheduled our phone interview, (which was best for me because I get super nervous in person) I figured I'd better start to prepare.

How I Prepared

This basically entailed:
  1. I wrote out a list of questions I had.
  2. I did some basic research on the career in question.  
  3. I planned on having my husband come home a little early from work to occupy our son (who ended up napping through the entire thing.)
  4. I googled around for some more questions in case I forgot something.
In order to save you time here is my list:
Whatis the role like?What is the industry like?What types of other roles are in the industry? Tell me about your day?Team or individual work?Do you put on programming?Opportunities for advancement? Next steps? Where do you see yourself?What kind of education is needed?What is the best way to get experience?Are there any volunteer opportunities available?Any recommended books? Things I should be researching? 

How It Went

When the day for the interview finally came, my computer literally breathed it's last breath, and I spent several hours freaking out about how I lost all my questions and research. Luckily, my husband is a computer whiz and managed to do some sort of craziness that enabled me to view my hard drive from his computer, all with five minutes to spare.

All the stressing I did, proved pointless, because the call ended up being a breeze. Stephanie, the woman that Joanna set me up with, was super easy to talk to and friendly. We literally just had a conversation about her job and I mostly did a lot of listening. She answered many of my questions unprompted and a lot of the things I asked about weren't on my list anyway. (I was still glad I prepared though.)


What I Got

After I wrote all about my experience, I was kind of reflecting about it and got to thinking, but what is the point? Why is this even relevant to me, the early stage career breaker? I'm not even planning on returning to the job market until at least 2014! I almost, for a slight second, felt guilty that I wasted Stephanie's time. But once I started thinking about what I got out of it, my guilt turned to extreme gratitude, because a lot of the things we talked about will help me out in the long view.


1. Insider knowledge. I got a great picture of what the job really entails, how to land a job in the field, and the experience needed; all things I would have never figured out without having spoken to an insider. I had a really different perception about some things and Stephanie really straighten me out. Essentially, I was able to learn a ton of juicy tidbits without the years of investment it would have taken for me to get to the same role. Had I decided to pursue this without her advice, my first instinct would have been to go back to school (all wrong!)


2. Resources. Stephanie shot me an email after our conversation with tons of sites and books and WAYS TO GET EXPERIENCE that I can start working on RIGHT NOW, (which I've actually implemented and have already gotten a great volunteer opportunity out of!)  


3. An industry contact. I have a new LinkedIn friend! 


4. Confidence. Most importantly, the call reassured me that informational interviewing is not hard and that I could still have a business conversation with an adult. It was actually kind of a self-esteem boost.


Overall, the informational interview turned out to be a success; and just like with my inability to stop applying for jobs, there are loads of benefits. I'd definitely do it again and most certainly recommend it to other SAHMs.



P.S. - Have you ever done an informational interview? Where you equally nervous going into it? How did it go?

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