Sorry, career advisers of the world, but asking for an informational interview is one of the most awkward tasks of your adult life.
Yes, yes, we know these “casual” conversations with the people who work at our dream companies or hold our dream jobs are a great way to get our foot in the door, and maybe even find out about openings before they're listed on job-search boards. Still, composing the email asking to meet? We'd rank it up there with telling someone you just want to be friends.
But maybe this will help: As someone who's actually given a few informational interviews in my time, I can tell you the good ones are rewarding for both parties. While the interviewer got to find out the secret details of how my workplace ran and what kind of paths they might take in a field like mine, I got to see my job through fresh eyes. And talk about myself.
"Most people’s favorite topics of conversation revolve around their own lives," career coach Elana Konstant tells Refinery29. (Ouch?)
My point is, if you make a good impression and ask the right kinds of questions in an informational interview, it's going to be a win-win.
"It's not schmoozing if you actually enjoy the conversation that you're having with someone," says A-J Aronstein, associate dean at Barnard College's Beyond Barnard office. "If you make a genuine connection with someone, you're helping HR by connecting to someone in a firm. You're making it easier for them to say, 'Oh, we've identified someone who's A) got really good qualifications, and B) already knows us and is interested in coming here.'"
So reach out to your would-be connections on LinkedIn, search through your other real and virtual networks, and ask the questions we've gathered here.