STEM PPG Module 3: Informational Interviewing

Objective: To learn more about specific roles within your career family of interest by conducting informational interviews with Yale alumni or other contacts. 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.

Individual Activities

  1. Review the OCS resources on informational interviewing
    1. Informational Interviewing
    2. Professional Correspondence
  2. Select 2-3 alumni from Cross Campus or LinkedIn working in a career that you are interested in. Alumni on YCN have already agreed that they are willing to talk with current Yale students about careers! 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 using the Advanced Search.
  3. Write a draft of an email to the alumni where you:
    1. Introduce yourself
    2. 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!)
    3. Ask if there is a time they are available to chat on the phone for 20-30 minutes about their career
    4. Thank them for their time
  4. OCS has sample emails online, which can be found here.
  5. Brainstorm questions you would like to ask the alumni when you speak with them
  6. You can also explore the OCS Alumni Spotlights to learn more about GSAS & PostDoc alumni who have found fulfilling career outside of academia to learn more and identify alumni to connect with.

Group Activities

  1. Discuss any prior experiences with informational interview.
    1. Has anyone previously conducted an informational interview?
    2. If so, what was this experience like for you? What questions did you ask? What did you learn?
  2. 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?
    1. In the unlikely event that multiple people chose the same alumni, please decide on one person to email them
  3. Read and review emails drafts. Make any appropriate edits. Double check your spelling and grammar!
  4. When you’re happy with your emails, return to YCN and find your alumni. Click on the “Interested” button at the bottom of the alumni’s profile. This will open a dialogue box for you to copy and paste your message. When you’re ready, click send!
    1. If you don’t receive a response within a week or two, you may also try to connect with the alumni on LinkedIn.