What is a Career Chat?
It's an informational interview!
Focus on building relationships with your professional connections - avoid asking for a job or internship. You are simply gathering information and forming a connection.
Prep For The Meeting:
Visit the company website and read about what they do, their mission/value statements, leadership team, etc.
Find and read the bio of the professional you will be meeting with (and look the person up on LinkedIn) so you learn about their background. This will help you with the next step.
Come up with at least 5 questions to ask the professional about their job, their career journey, and the company. Allow the conversation to evolve organically though, so listen well and respond in the moment to what they are saying. Something they say may lead to a different question you hadn’t prepared, that is great and means you are listening well. Prepping questions in advance will help the meeting move forward and avoid uncomfortable lulls if the conversation is not unfolding organically. Remember that you asked for the meeting and need to be the driving force of moving the conversation forward.
Have the last two questions you ask the professional be along the lines of: What advice do you have for someone wanting to go into this industry after graduation? AND Do you know anyone else that may be willing to talk with me?
Practice your elevator pitch in case they say, “So tell me about yourself!” at any point in the conversation.
Dress appropriately. Look professional (not a suit, it’s not a job interview, but you want to look nice and professional).
Show up on time. If it’s in person or via Zoom, show up a few minutes early. If it’s a phone call, call on the dot.
Stick to the amount of time you asked for - 20 min. is good for a phone call or Zoom chat. Then thank her for her time and if she wants to continue talking then let her take the lead and continue the conversation.
Send a follow-up Thank You email after the conversation. Gratitude makes a great impression. If you feel it’s appropriate to do so, you could attach your resume for future opportunities or referrals.
More About Informational Interviewing:
This is an essential professional practice for making connections, although virtual these days. Remember that there is a great deal of power in making human connections because people hire people! Being intentional in connecting with people who are doing what you want to be doing or are working where you want to be working is key.