Half Way There: June is Informational Interview Month

June 4, 2012

It’s June!  That means we are half way through the year and half way through our career development calendar that we posted in January.  If you have been following the calendar, you have met with your PI to discuss you career aspirations, talked with a career counselor, created a networking map, learned how to network at a conference or meeting and you attend our Career Symposium.  It has been a full year…and we are just getting started!  Following along with the calendar, June is the month for you to set up at least two information interviews. 

We have posted before on informational interviews and if you attended the career symposium, you probably heard our panelist discuss how important they were in their career.  Yet, we still sense quite a bit of hesitation from fellows when it comes to setting up information interviews.  We know the idea of contacting someone you may not know well and asking them to make time for you can be daunting.  So, we have compiled the top five reasons to overcome your fears and just do it:

5)  The New York Department of Labor estimates that 80% of available jobs are not advertised and half of the employed population got their jobs through networking.  That means one in every two people who are currently working used their network (the people they know) to get the job they have.  Meet more people in the careers you want to get.

4) Through an information interview you may learn that the career you thought you wanted to pursue, is in fact NOT what you want to pursue.  Often times, jobs look great from the outside.  However, once you sit down and hear about the daily grind of the profession, you decide you would rather not follow that career path.  Information interviews can save you time and frustration.

3) An information interview may turn in to a job interview.  Remember, most jobs are not advertised.  You never know who is hiring.  Talking to the right person at the right time may just be how you get where you want to be.

2) One information interview can lead to another, and another, and another.  Often times in an informational interview, the person you are interviewing will mention another person you should speak with.  You then use that connection to set up a second informational interview.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 

1) Because if you want to something to happen, you have to be willing to make it happen.  We blogged about the “luck” of the panelists at the career symposium. Almost all of them were out there doing something to advance their careers when they got “lucky.”  The truth of the matter is, you make your own luck!  Go make it happen.


What Luck Really Looks Like

May 21, 2012

If you attended the 5th Annual NIH Career Symposium last Friday, you heard about how many professionals in a wide variety of industries got their job.  You probably heard more than a few panelists say they got their job by “luck.”  However, if you listened to their whole story, you would have realized that they made their own luck.  What you did not hear was a panelist say, “I worked in the lab all the time.  One day, this person that I had never seen before came into the lab and said, ‘Hey, you want this job?’” 

A common response from our panelists to the question, “How did you get into the field you are in now?” was something like the following:  “Really, I kind of got lucky.  I was volunteering with this organization…” or “I was serving on this committee…” or “I was working on this council…” all followed by “…and I started to develop these skills,” or “…and I meet this individual who worked where I now work.”  They did not sit idle waiting for providence to shine upon them.  Most of their stories share a common theme; they were out working to develop skills and gain experience doing what they wanted to do.    

Their “luck” was not random chance.  The second century Roman philosopher, Seneca, is credited with the saying, “Luck is where the crossroads of preparation and opportunity meet.”  While opportunity had to present itself, the panelists from the career symposium were doing the right things to be in the right places at the right times.  The panelists may feel “lucky” to have the jobs they have.  They enjoy what they do and they are excited by the new challenges they face.  But, they had done the work to be prepared to take advantage of that opportunity when it came.  Their word of choice may have been “luck,” but their story was one of preparation meeting opportunity.  They made their own luck.  How will you make yours?