One faculty member I know often says that how you spend your summers will decide your career, and he makes an excellent point.

Over the course of a four-year degree, you have three summers available to build experience and explore career paths outside of the academic environment. Through that exploration you may open up possibilities that don’t obviously connect to your major or that take you in directions you hadn’t planned.

There are multiple ways to do this exploration—internships, part-time jobs, volunteer activities, research projects are examples—but there is one activity that you can and should do, no matter what you have planned for the summer: informational interviewing.

What’s informational interviewing?

Simply put, it’s having a conversation with a professional about their career path to determine if it would be a good fit for you, and it is one of the most effective ways to gather career insight.

I require the students enrolled in the Career Awareness class (CRDV 203 if you’re curious) to conduct an informational interview with a professional from their fields of interest. Students who were skeptical at the beginning of the term often end up doing multiple interviews as one connection leads to an introduction to another, and some students found job or internship opportunities as a result. Whether they did one interview or many, students consistently told me it was one of the most valuable exercises in the class.

With that, we at CES want to issue you a challenge for the summer: do as many informational interviews as you can! Share your stories on the CES Facebook page, and we’ll choose the best one to feature on this very blog in the fall.

For tips on how to conduct effective informational interviews check out the CES Informational Interviewing page. We’ll be open all summer long and will happily help you strategize who to reach out to and specific questions to ask—just call us at 253.879.3161 to schedule an in-person or phone appointment. Speaking of ASK, the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Network is a great place to start!

Live in Colorado? Check out Project Hometown: Denver Edition for another opportunity to network and connect with prospective informational interviewers.

© 2013 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound