Students who wish to make use of our Alumni Mentoring Directory for informational interviewing should contact Kirstin Wilcox, Director of Internships, (firstname.lastname@example.org) and set up an appointment. At this appointment you will sign an Alumni Network Agreement and receive some guidelines about contacting alumni.
After you have signed the agreement, you will receive a link to the Alumni Mentoring Directory.
It is up to you to review the entries in the directory and identify alumni that you would like to contact for an informational interview.
Write a courteous and professional email to the alumni you would to talk to, formally requesting an informational interview, to take place by phone or Skype–or in person, if that is feasible.
If you do not get a response from an alumna/us in a week, a gentle follow-up is appropriate. If you still do not get a response, let Kirstin Wilcox know, and identify other alumni whom you would like to contact.
If the alumna/us agrees to an informational interview, set up a time to talk.
Prepare carefully for the informational interview.
- Review your contact’s bio in the Alumni Mentoring Directory.
- Do some supplementary research on your contact, as well as on his or her organization and industry. The conversation will be more productive if you avoid questions that can be answered by a Google search and instead focus on questions that can best be answered by a live person.
- Prepare some questions, but avoid giving yourself a script. It can be more effective to concentrate in advance on the gaps in your understanding that you hope to fill. so that you can guide the conversation organically.
During the informational interview itself, keep track of time and wind down the conversation as you approach the end of the time your contact has agreed to.. Two good questions to signal that you’re prepared to end the conversation are (1) What other advice do you have for me? And (2) who else do you suggest I talk to? Of course, if the alumna/us seems willing to talk longer, respect those cues and make use of the opportunity to learn more.
Be sure to thank the alumna/us at the end of the conversation, and follow up with a thank-you email message or handwritten note within 24 hours.
In the course of informational interviewing, you may talk to an alumna/us whom you would like to work with further. If so,
- Email Kirstin Wilcox to let her know that you want to take part in the Professional Mentoring Program and give her the name of the alumna/us whose mentoring you seek.
- Kirstin will issue an invitation with a Professional Mentoring Agreement that both you and the mentor will sign and return to her.
- If the person selected chooses not to accept the invitation, you are free to select another person to invite.
The Professional Mentoring Agreement commits both you and the mentor to six months of regular interaction, including
- Six ½-hour Skype conversations.
- A resume review (by your fourth Skype session)
- Some job interview practice (by your fifth Skype session)
- A ½ day job shadow over Thanksgiving or Spring break (if geographically feasible)
You are responsible for initiating each session and rescheduling any missed meetings.
When the six months are up and you’ve completed your six Skype sessions, you will
- complete an Alumni Mentoring Reflection
- send a letter or email thanking your mentor for participating in the program and identifying what you found particularly helpful or valuable in the connection.
Those two activities conclude your participation in the formal mentoring program, but you are encouraged to remain in touch with your mentor informally.