Informational interviews are excellent networking tools and in this class they will help you do to understand the issue area you are researching.

by | Aug 8, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Informational interviews are excellent networking tools and in this class they will help you do to understand the issue area you are researching. They allow you to gain practical insight into what it takes to be successful in a particular position or profession and allow you to build confidence in your ability to interact with professionals in a chosen field.
This three-stage assignment will give you the chance to practice and sharpen your skills and strategies for informational interviewing.
Format, Expectations, and Evaluation
• A well-organized essay of at least 1000-1250 words
• The strongest essays will articulate advice relevant to the policy issue your group is researching & also include career tips and reflections if applicable.
Step 1: Identify One Individual to Interview
First, identify and interview one individual who is in a position that can help you understand the issue area your group is working on. This can be a researcher, practitioner, activist, etc. Groups should coordinate so that these different aspects of work in the policy area are represented.
Please note that although the primary objective of this assignment is to contact individuals working in the area you are researching, this can also be a very useful way to network and think about your career goals and the many ways that you can work on public policy. All interviews should be arranged to be via phone or Zoom.
Step 2: Schedule and Conduct the Informational Interview
In this stage you have four main tasks: researching the person(s) you have chosen to interview, scheduling the interview, creating a list of questions you want to ask in the interview, and conducting the interview.
Remember, professionals have busy schedules. You will need to start early in order to get on the calendar of the person you’d like to interview. Please see the Informational Interview Primer for some directions on scheduling the informational interview, researching your interview subject, creating a list of questions and conducting the interview.
Stage 3: Write the Reflection
Write a reflection essay on your informational interview in which you examine and articulate what you learned from your interviewees. The goal is to reflect on the experience, outline the major takeaways that will help move your group project forward. It should also include a section that is written through your personal lens and to consider your future objectives/aspirations, career readiness status, and ways to apply your strengths in your career.
Use the following prompts as a guide:
• General:
o Identify and describe the individual you interviewed, including their name, title, organization, and how you went about selecting the two individuals to interview (this section should take no more than one paragraph).
• What you want to find out:
o Have ready a list of questions you have prepared in advance for your discussion with your interviewee. These will vary according to the role in the policy process that the interviewee plays – activist, researcher, policymaker, policy implementation, etc.
o Take good notes and ask follow up questions to make sure you understand their perspective on the issue, their preferred solution, barriers to implementing a “policy fix,” the scope of the problem, issues with implementation, etc.
o How might you work to acquire or hone these competencies in the near future?
• Career Trajectories and Development:
o Are you interested in pursuing a career similar to that of the person you interviewed? If so, how might you apply your strengths in this career?
o How does the person you’re interviewing leverage his/her primary strengths (this is a tricky question.Note: You should think critically about ways to ask this in a manner that is fluid and conversational).
o In what ways can you envision following a path similar to that of the person you interviewed? What would you do differently and why?
o How were your interviewees intentional about their career development? How might you be?
o If applicable, how did these experiences change or reaffirm your envisioned immediate future?
o What are the most important skills/competencies needed to excel in your interviewee’s place of work or career?
o How might you work to acquire or hone these competencies in the near future?
o What did you learn about best strategies for breaking into your field of choice? (Résumé content? Job search strategies? Entry point? Networking strategies, etc.)

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