Informational interviews are an effective method to learn more about a particular job or industry. The Dickinson Center for Advising, Internships & Lifelong Career Development encourages students to conduct informational interviews with alumni and parents for career exploration and networking purposes.

Please click here for best practices on conducting informational interviews from the Dickinson Alumni Council as well as How to Ask for an Informational Interview (and Get a “Yes”) and Introducing: The Email Template That’ll Get You a Meeting With Anyone You Ask

Email Etiquette for Making a Contact

Basic tips:

  • When emailing alumni, be friendly and polite.
  • Explain why you are writing and where you got the alumna's contact information in the first sentence or two.
  • Write clear and concise emails. Do not write lengthy messages, email is to be a quick form of communication.
  • Always reread and spell check your emails before sending them. Consider sending a draft to the Center for Advising, Internships & Lifelong Career Development for review before sending.
  • Remember you are writing to a stranger, not a classmate.
  • Do not use ALL CAPITALS. This is annoying and hard to read.
  • Ask if the alumna is willing to answer some questions that you have.
  • Wait for a reply before sending your questions.
  • Always send a thank you note.

Sample email to make an initial contact with alumni:

Dr. Miller,

I am a junior chemistry major at Dickinson and see through LinkedIn that you are conducting research at the University of Pennsylvania. Might you be willing to answer some questions I have about a career in chemistry? If so do you prefer that I email you questions or that we set up a time to talk by phone? Thank you for your consideration.

Jane Smith

Sample Scripts/Phone Etiquette for Making a Contact

Basic tips:

  • When you call your contact, be confident, friendly, and energetic.
  • Use a pleasant tone of voice and try not to sound rushed, even though you might be nervous.
  • Use the person's name when you speak with them.
  • Call early in the morning, in the middle of the week. Avoid Mondays and Fridays, lunch hours or late in the day.
  • Be swift and to the point.
  • Remember, your first contact may be with a secretary...always be polite.
  • Explain your purpose in calling.
  • If the contact isn't available, find out the best time to call. In general, you should not ask them to call you.
  • Know what you want- to meet in person or talk on the phone.
  • Be prepared to go ahead with the full informational interview. Your contact might be free when you call. Have a 30-second introduction prepared about yourself that will describe your background.
  • Have your list of questions ready. Keep your resume handy and refer to it when appropriate.
  • It's OK to leave 2 or 3 messages with the contact, but if you get no response, let it go.
  • If you set up an appointment or phone interview more than 5 days away send a confirmation e-mail.
  • Be sure to follow up any conversation.
  • If you are asked to call at a particular time, do so. If you're asked to send an e-mail, do so. If you say you'll be somewhere at a particular time, be there. You get the idea.
  • Send a thank you note after your conversation, regardless of whether it was by phone, e-mail, or in person.

Sample script to set up a meeting:
Hello, Dr. Miller, my name is Jane Smith and I am a junior chemistry major at Dickinson. I see through LinkedIn that you are at the University of Pennsylvania. I will be in the Philadelphia area March 15-18th and would like to schedule a meeting with you to gain more insight into your research. Might you be available to meet for about 20 minutes while I am in town?

Sample script to set up a phone informational interview:
Hello, Ms. Smith? I am an English major at Dickinson, and Prof. Jones suggested I contact you because I'm considering a career in publishing. Would it be possible to have 15 minutes of your time to talk about careers in the publishing field? Would this be an all right time to speak or would you like me to call you back? When would be most convenient?

Click here for Alumni Best Tips for conducting informational interviews