Eleanor Horner

Author: Eleanor Horner

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!

Service Opportunities for Gap Year

Are you interested in attending graduate school, but not ready to jump right in after graduating from Lawrence? Curious to learn about gap year opportunities to gain experience and explore your interests? We’ve got you covered. There are a wide array of opportunities for recent graduates — here are just a few service programs that offer yearlong opportunities in healthcare.

AmeriCorps State and National
AmeriCorps may not seem like the place for health care opportunities, but there are actually a variety of service programs offered that focus on community wellness and health services. For example, take a look at the “Be Well Fox Valley AmeriCorps Program” right here in the Fox Valley area. Through this program, members have the opportunity to provide health education and promote physical, mental, and social health for community members.
Check out AmeriCorps here!

National Health Corps
This program is specifically dedicated to connecting young adults interested in becoming health professionals to people in need. There are a variety of positions available for many different organizations (called “host sites”) nationwide. For example, you could spend a year as a “Patient Navigator” where your responsibilities include linking patients to health care services, enrolling patients in health insurance, and providing health screenings.
See more about the National Health Corps here!


You may have heard the term tossed around a few times, but do you know what a hackathon is? What are some of the pros and cons of hackathon? These are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about registering for a hackathon!

What is a hackathon?
An event focused on collaboratively creating software, usually in effort to solve one or a variety of problems utilizing computer programming. Hackathons tend to have a specific focus (be it programming language, OS, or any other number of specifications), and usually involve team competition and collaboration. They typically last for a weekend and occur year round!

What are some pros of participating in a Hackathon?
Networking. One nice thing about attending a hackathon is you can be sure that you share something in common with everyone else there — a love for computer programming. In addition to the rigorous hackathon event itself, there’s often opportunities to get to know other programmers and spend leisure time together.
Camaraderie. In line with just making connections, the intensive nature of a hackathon will foster community between attending members. Either for the weekend or for years to follow, you will find a community at a hackathon.
Creation. The focus of the hackathon, of course, is on problem solving and software development. So at the end of the weekend, no matter what the problem was, you’ll have created something incredible — be it an original application or altering the purpose of an appliance. Over the course of the hackathon, you might work with people from vastly different programming backgrounds than yours and on projects that are vastly different than ones you’re familiar with. Hackathons provide opportunity to branch out and test some less-used programming muscles.

What are some cons of participating in a Hackathon?
Tiring. As can be expected from spending a weekend developing new code and software, hackathons can take a toll on your sleep habits.
Frustrating. As with any high-pressure, low-time event, there are bound to be frustrations along the road. From bad or unusable code, to bugs that simply cannot be fixed in the time constraint, unfortunate things can happen unexpectedly. Like any competition, the prospect of spending hours and hours working on something, only to come up short in the end should be considered.
Loss of focus and drive. Burnout is real, and it’s unfortunately not uncommon at hackathons. Between sleep loss, frustration buildup, or simply brain fatigue and procrastination (which occur at hackathons just like they occur before your big paper is due!), it can be difficult to focus on completing hacking tasks.