Tag: #Advice

FAQs about Informational Interviewing

The phrase “informational interviews” might sound intimidating, but really they’re just conversations you arrange with people who work in the field you’re interested in. Informational interviews are a quick and easy way to explore potential career pathways and solicit advice from professionals in the field. In addition, when you set up informational interviews with people in your field of interest, you’re building a network that you can utilize later — for job opportunities, shadowing opportunities when COVID restrictions lessen, and more.

Some FAQs about Informational Interviewing

Q: When should I start conducting informational interviews?
A: It’s never too late or too early to start! You can coordinate informational interviews throughout your college career, and well into your career beyond college! Your questions will likely shift as your personal goals and interests change over time.

Q: How should I prepare for the interview?
A: The primary goal is to come ready to drive the interview with your questions. Make sure you have your questions ready, and try to focus your questions on gathering insights and advice; you don’t want them to feel like you’re expecting a job offer. It’s also helpful to do some internet research on the person you’re interviewing to help guide your question development. Be ready to talk about yourself if asked, too! Business casual is the typical attire for informational interviews.

Q: How and where should I expect the informational interview to happen?A: Over the phone or using video chat is often the easiest, especially during the pandemic. Reach out to your intended interviewee and plan on your conversation going for about 30 minutes. Make sure to be respectful of their time — they’re doing you a favor, so be careful not to go over the allotted time.

Q: Speaking of reaching out: Help! How do I do that?
A: Find the contact information of the person you’re interested in interviewing, and send them an email. In your message, you should introduce yourself and express your interest in their field. If you have a personal or Lawrence-related connection to them, or were recommended to seek them out by a mutual acquaintance, make sure to mention that. Then, indicate that you are reaching out to ask about their availability for a short informational interview to learn more about their professional journey. The Viking Connect website is a great way to find alumni Lawrentians who are eager to connect with current students!

“Thank you for the interview opportunity!” How to follow up after interviews and write thank you notes

Following up after job interviews and writing them a quick “thank you” note after the end is a good way to ensure that you still remain in the interviewer’s mind and demonstrate your interest in the role. You should also follow up with a “thank you” note after networking conversations/informational interviews, as they are a great way to show your appreciation and strengthen your existing connections. But how does one write a good “thank you” note?
There is no single right way to pull it off but some general conventions still apply when writing thank you notes following a job or informational interview. When sending a note, be sure to:

  • Send the thank you/follow-up email to the interviewer within 24 hours of the interview. Hiring processes can be done quickly, so hand written cards to follow up on job interviews might not be feasible. However, for informational interviews, sending a written thank you note within a week is a good way to stand out and show your extra appreciation (this can be done in addition to the 24-hour email).
  • Refer to when the interview occurred.
  • Refer to important parts of your conversation with them, such as highlighting a specific piece of advice that resonated with you.
  • For job interviews, reaffirm your interest in the position and why the interview made you even more interested in that position.
  • End with an invitation for further follow up.

Here’s an example format of email to guide you:
Subject: Thank you for the interview opportunity

Dear Mr./Ms./Mx. [Interviewer’s Last Name],
Thank you for speaking with me yesterday about my interest in the [job position you are applying for] role at [organization name]. I sincerely appreciate the time you to took to explain the position and all that it would entail.

I enjoyed our discussion on [add specific references to the conversation]. It only further reaffirmed my interest in the position, as it [explanation of why you are interested in this position]. I am confident that my prior experiences have prepared me to jump right into the role, especially [very brief explanation of why you think you are qualified for the job].

Thank you again for your consideration and for providing me the opportunity to meet with you and your team. Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide as you move forward in the hiring process.

You can find examples here and find more here. If needed, the Career Center has thank you cards available for your use. And, as always, if you need help writing a follow-up note or anything else, you can always make an appointment there!

Raisa Fatima ’23, Career Peer Educator

Surviving a Summer Internship Far from Home

If you are reading this, it means that you want to secure or have already secured a summer internship. If you haven’t found something yet, set up an appointment with CLC staff to explore some resources. If you are all set, these are some things to keep in mind while you get ready for the best summer of your life. I spent the summer between my junior and senior year in Washington DC, and I made several mistakes while I was preparing for my internship. For example, I had no idea how to find housing, or how to eat on a budget. I hope my mistakes make your summer easier and more fun.

Just like most things in big cities, housing is (very) expensive. You can try to save money by sharing a room or commuting. More traditional options for interns are well-known intern housing options like June Homes. You can find city specific alternatives if you start searching early on; however, these tend to be more expensive, and they fill really fast. Other options that might be less pricey, are reaching out to alumni or personal connections and asking if they know of anyone subletting or in need of a summer house sitter. Another way to learn about subletting options is through subletting groups on Facebook. Try to avoid less reliable websites like Craigslist. If you find something that you like, ask to see the apartment or house through a video call, or if you can have a connection in that city go visit the apartment in person. There are some people out there making money from fake apartment postings. Someone gave me this advice before my summer in DC: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

Getting around. The best way to get around on a budget is by using public transportation and walking. If your city has a metro, don’t be afraid to use it. In most cities you can get a metro card and load it at almost every metro station. Usually, metro cards also work for city buses. Another way to move around the city is by using free transportation designed for tourists, in DC it was a bus: the DC Circulator. Buses tend to be less reliable than metros, but they usually reach more places. If it will be your first time on that city, download these apps: Via, a cheaper ride-share option; the metro app, will let you know the best way to get places and how far way buses are; and CityMapper, will show you different options to get places as well as the price for each option.

Eating on a budget. Food is also very expensive, so the cheapest option is to go grocery shopping and cook for yourself. Keep this in mind while searching for housing. If you are planning to cook, make sure you find housing that has a fully equipped kitchen. Remember that in in some cities you have to pay for disposable bags, so bring reusable bags with you when you go grocery shopping. Buy a Tupperware and bring food to work, it is not weird. Most interns are also on a budget, so they will probably be doing the same. In some cases, you can even eat for free. Usually events happening during lunchtime or after five provide free food.

Although food is expensive, most entertainment options are free. Make sure you find things to do after you get out of work. There are hundreds of free events happening all over the city, ranging from congressional briefings about public policy to showings of 90s movies at a park. Summer is a special time: museums have new and exciting exhibits, families have picnics at the park, people to listen to music. Use Facebook, Google, and Eventbrite to learn about free events happening near you.

Contact other interns. The only thing that makes free events better, is going with the right company. Most interns in the area are just like you, trying to find people to hang out when they get out of work, so reach out; again, it is not weird. Reach out to interns at your organization, reach out to interns from Lawrence, and reach out to young alumni living in your city.

Make and cultivate connections. If you find a person whose job sounds like something you’d like to do, tell them. They can be your boss at your organization, or someone that you met at a meeting, request to meet with them for an informational interview and ask them anything you want to know. But it doesn’t stop there, email your connections to let them know what you’ve been up to.

Dress to impress. Make sure to have a business casual wardrobe that will keep you cool during the humid summer months. Most organizations will require you to dress up for work. Remember that you might be using public transportation and walking a lot, so use clothes that look fancy and keep you cool. You might be attending meetings with congress people, CEOs, and other important people in your field. Make sure you look presentable and refreshed. Some people even bring walking shoes with them to ensure comfort.

Be prepared for anything. Summer weather is unpredictable. A morning that looks like a humid summer day, later turns into a thunderstorm that floods the city. While there are no good ways to prepare for that, here are some things to keep in your bag so you can survive hot days, rainstorms, and everything in between: a water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, an umbrella, a cardigan or light jacket, and a reusable bag.

I hope these tips make your summer internship easier and more fun.

By Barbara Espinosa ’20 who survived an internship in DC during one of the hottest summers ever.

Dear Career Center, how do I email professors to inquire about an undergraduate research opportunity?

Emailing professors about research opportunities can be daunting, especially if you don’t have a personal relationship with the professor. How do you contact a professor when they’re in a different department, or if they’re at another institution?
General emailing conventions apply. Emails to professors should:

  1. Have an informative subject line. Example: Meeting to discuss your research
  2. Be concise and direct. See template example below
  3. Be formal. e.g., Dear Dr./Professor Simmons, Sincerely, etc.

If you know the professor because you’ve taken their classes, emailing them to request a meeting to discuss research opportunities will suffice. Depending upon the professor, an entire conversation might even take place via email.
For professors who you do not know, an initial email should include:

  1. An introduction: Include your class year and major(s)
  2. When emailing off-campus, specify that you’re a student at Lawrence University
  3. How you found out about their research or specific project
  4. Explain why you’re interested in their research
  5. Describe any of your relevant research and/or class experience
  6. Explain why gaining undergraduate research experience is important to you (e.g., what goals are you hoping to achieve, what skills are you hoping to develop)
  7. Ask them if they might be available for a brief 20-30 minute meeting to talk about their work, and/or whether they offer undergraduate research positions over the summer

Here’s an example format of a general email to a professor:

Subject: Meeting to discuss your research
Dear Professor/Dr. [Last Name of Professor],
My name is [name] and I am a [class year] at Lawrence University majoring in [major]. I found out about your research [explanation of how you found out about it]. I am especially interested in your work because [explanation of why this topic interests you].
My experience in [research experience or class] confirmed my desire to further develop my research skills and [goal]. I am sure you are very busy, but would you potentially have 20 minutes to talk about your research via phone?
I would appreciate the chance to talk with you about your research in this field, and if any, potential future opportunities in your lab. I have attached my resume and unofficial transcript. Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide. I look forward to hearing from you.

You can find more examples here. Remember: A well-written, thoughtful email that feels personalized to someone’s research is more likely to elicit a response, especially if you are pursuing opportunities off-campus. If you need help, you can always make an appointment with myself or Jacklyn, our #PHN advisor, to discuss your resume and how to begin the research exploration process.

Raisa Fatima ’23 is a Physics major with interests in research and engineering. She enjoys painting, reading and playing games like Stardew Valley in her spare time. Raisa works as a Career Peer Educator for the BE and PHN career communities so if you’re interested in anything PHN or BE related, or you just need some general advice on anything professional development related like resumes, cover letter etc. you can schedule an appointment here.

Highlighting Skills for Your Resume

Highlighting skills in your resume to show what you’re capable of doing can be challenging. What even counts as a valuable, resume-worthy skill? Experience can come from anywhere including the classes you took at Lawrence. Here are some examples of how to showcase skills you’ve already developed thanks to your classes and incorporate them into your resume.
Western Blot: An analysis used to detect specific proteins in a sample of tissue homogenate or extract. Sample resume phrase: Performed Western Blot to detect CD19 scFv protein.
R Studio: A programming language for statistical computing and graphics. This is introduced in BIOL 170, and CMSC 205 goes into greater depth about other applications of R. Sample resume phrase: Performed and analyzed statistical tests using R.
UV-VIS: A measurement of the weakening of strength of a beam of light after it passes through a sample or after reflection from a sample surface. Sample resume phrase: Determined Mg content in water samples using UV-VIS.
Arduino: A microcontroller board equipped with sets of digital and analog input/output pins that can be connected to other circuits and programmed to do certain things. You can learn how to use it in PHYS 220, an electronics lab class. Sample resume phrase: Coded Arduino Uno to stabilize a plastic boat for group project; presented results of project to class.
Python: A programming language also used to visualize data. Classes like PHYS 220 and PHYS 225 provide a basic overview on how use Python to create graphs and analyze data. Sample resume phrase: Used Python to graph data collected for experiments.

Julia Ammons ’22 is a Biology major and Anthropology minor with interests in the natural sciences and museum studies.

Raisa Fatima ’23 is a Physics major with interests in research related to Physics and/or engineering.