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Unformatted text preview: 22 Occupational Outlook Quarterly Summer 2010 Olivia Crosby (updated by Tamara Dillon) Olivia Crosby wrote this article for the Summer 2002 OOQ while working in the Office of Occupa- tional Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. Tamara Dillon is an economist in that office and can be reached at (202) 691-5719 or dillon.tamara@bls. gov . W ant to know what a career is really like? Ask someone with first-hand experience. Many people wonder anxiously about which type of job theyll like or how they can break into the career of their dreams. Surpris- ingly, very few people ever take advantage of one of the best ways to answer their questions about careers: asking the workers already in them. Talking to people about their jobs and asking them for advice is called informa- tional interviewing, a term coined by career counselor and author Richard Bolles. And the technique usually works very well for people exploring careers. Stories abound of students who used informational interviewing to decide among occupations or to find a way to convert their interests to a paying job. Some people who conduct informational interviews discover their dream job isnt so dreamy after all. By learning the truth in time, they can change course and find a career that suits them. Others have their career goals confirmed. Informational interviewing can be as sim- ple as striking up conversations with friends or others about their occupations. But taking full advantage of this career exploration tool requires a more methodical approach. Read on to learn the purpose of informa- tional interviewing; whom to interview; how to set up, prepare for, and conduct an inter- view; and what to do afterward. The what and why of informational interviews An informational interview is a brief meeting between a person who wants to investigate a career and a person working in that career. The interviews usually last 20 to 30 minutes. The purpose of an informational interview is not to get a job. Instead, the goal is to find out about jobs you might liketo see if they fit your interests, skills, and personality. Specifically, interviews can help you: Learn more about the realities of working in a particular occupation Decide among different occupations or choose an occupational specialty Focus career goals Discover careers you never knew existed Uncover your professional strengths and weakness Informational interviewing: Get the inside scoop on careers Summer 2010 Occupational Outlook Quarterly 23 Find different ways to prepare for a particular career Gather ideas for volunteer, seasonal, part-time, and internship opportuni- ties related to a specific field Informational interviews also provide an inside look at an organization you may want to work for in the future. And these inter- views aid in polishing communication skills, helping jobseekers gain confidence and poise before the high-pressure situation of a job interview....
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- Fall '11