Are you considering leaving your current role to pursue a new passion? Or maybe you just want to find out more about how to get into a new line of work.  Why not consider “informational interviews?”

When I was looking at options for a Master’s Degree, I had a few choices under consideration.  A teaching certificate and a school counseling degree were at the top of my list.  These two would allow me to continue my love for educating others while working with children.

My research began with my career counselor from high school.  I chose her because we had developed a great relationship and I had looked up to her.  After explaining that I wanted to get more “real-world” insight from professionals currently working in the two fields above, I asked if she could provide some contacts.  She referred me to a few teachers that had stayed in contact with her after graduating, as well as a couple of her peers.

I reached out to each of the contacts and asked if they would be open to me coming in to their office or classroom to observe and ask questions about their career path.  Each was happy to oblige.

I started with the teachers.  After scheduling the day off from work, I headed over to the school.  Using a small desk in the back of the classroom, I quietly watched the teachers work, offering assistance whenever and wherever I could.  It was great experience to see how multiple classrooms worked and to hear the personal career path of each teacher.

While my observations could easily have inspired me to become a teacher, I was actually pointed in a different direction.  Through my “shadowing” in an actual classroom, and interviews with the educators, I discovered several important points that influenced my decision.  While several of the teachers still felt they were making a difference, others felt their teaching position was focused more on babysitting. Most of the classrooms also had too many students.  At the time, I felt as though working with smaller groups would have more of an impact and decided to keep looking at career options.

Important Tip!   Remember to keep an open mind when doing this type of information gathering.  You may be pointed in a new direction – new directions can lead to new opportunities you may have never considered.

Next up are the school counselors.  Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will talk about my experiences with them and tips to keep in mind when doing informational interviews.

Have you ever done an informational interview?  If so, where and when?