To learn more about specific roles within your career family of interest by conducting informational interviews with Yale alumni or other contacts. Go beyond reading and begin to make some connections!
Informational interviews are a great place to establish a new connection and learn more about a particular career path, an alum’s career transitions, skills that are valuable to a job, or any other topics that will help you make informed decisions. Informational interviews should not be used to get a job or ask about job openings, and we recommend that you do not attach a resume.
Before you reach out to the person with whom you hope to do an informational interview, you will have to engage in some research and utilize networking resources, such as LinkedIn and Cross-Campus.
- Review OCS’s resources:
- Create/update your LinkedIn account with your current role, interests, and career goals.
- Join Cross-Campus, Yale’s new alumni networking platform. Be sure to sign up for the GSAS discussion group to connect with PhD alums!
- Select 2-3 alumni from the LinkedIn’s Yale Alumni page or Cross-Campus working in a career that you are interested in. You may select alumni that did their PhD in the same department as you, share your undergraduate alma mater, and/or are working in a job/company that you are excited about. You can also explore the OCS Alumni Spotlights to learn more about GSAS & postdoc alumni who have found fulfilling careers outside of academia to learn more and identify alumni to connect with.
- Write a draft of an email to the alumni (OCS has sample emails online, which can be found here.) Your email should:
- Introduce yourself
- Explain why you are contacting them (to set up an informational interview) and why you selected them (they are working in a job you are interested in learning more about!)
- Ask if there is a time they are available to chat on the phone for 20-30 minutes about their career
- Thank them for their time.
- Double-check grammar and make appropriate edits!
- At Home Networking Strategies, Inside Higher Ed Carpe Careers blog
- The Ultimate Grad School and PhD Networking Guide: How To Create A Network Out Of Thin Air, by the Grad Student Way
- What do you mean when you say “PhD”? Or, how to make a career fair work for you, MLA Connected Academics
- Networking Tips for International Students, Vault.com (free for Yale students and postdocs)
- Discuss tips and strategies for effective networking. We know that networking is an essential part of career development, but it can often be a challenge. Do you have any strategies that have helped you in the past?
- Has anyone previously conducted an informational interview? If so, what was this experience like for you? What questions did you ask? What did you learn?
- Brainstorm questions to ask the alumni when you speak with them.
- Discuss who you chose to email and why you chose them. Is there something specific you are hoping to learn from each individual? Are you exploring multiple career paths?
- Leverage your own personal networks to suggest other people for your group members to connect with. Aim for every member of the group to leave the meeting with one new contact!
In the unlikely event that multiple people chose the same alumni, please decide on one person to email them.