Career Exploration and Development

Informational Interviewing

“Networking is about building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships.”

- Lindsey Pollack

Employment data indicate that upwards of 70% of job seekers find an opportunity through a personal contact. Beyond the possibility of a job or internship, networking builds peer and mentor relationships that will support you through your career journey.

However, not everyone starts out with the same social capital or access to professional connections. With this in mind, Career Exploration and Development (CED) offers resources to help you find and engage with your community throughout your time at Oberlin.

Networking takes many forms, and it doesn't have to feel inauthentic. Every relationship you build - in and out of the classroom, on- or off-campus, through activism or community service - comprises your network. You can build on this existing network by intentionally seeking out potential mentors who are working in your career field(s) of interest.

Ways to expand your network include:

  • Attending professional events, such as receptions and conferences
  • Connecting with alumni through OberLink
  • Engaging with a career community
  • Joining a professional organization related to your chosen field

Conducting informational interviews

Once you've met or identified someone you would like to talk to about their career path, you may consider asking for an informational interview. Not to be confused with a job interview, an informational interview is an opportunity to ask questions and learn from another person's experience.

Here are some tips to help you make the most of informational interviewing opportunities:

The LinkedIn resource on Handshake has tips and tricks to optimize your profile. And don't forget to give the same attention to your OberLink and Handshake profiles! 

Before attending a networking event or meeting a professional one-on-one, prepare your personal introduction in advance. Use the How to Introduce Yourself activity to get started.

Make sure to do your research before an informational interview. It's best to plan some questions to ask ahead of time, with the understanding that new questions may pop up naturally during the conversation. Check out the Informational Interviewing Guide for tips and examples of questions to ask.

What should you say when reaching out and following up with new connections? We compiled some Sample Networking Emails and Letters to help you introduce yourself in writing and thank them after you meet.