Read What Color Is Your Parachute? Online

Authors: Carol Christen,Jean M. Blomquist,Richard N. Bolles

Tags: #Juvenile Nonfiction, #Business & Economics, #Careers, #School & Education, #Non-Fiction

What Color Is Your Parachute? (12 page)

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Two New Research Tools: Networking and Information Interviews

Once you’ve gathered and read a lot of written information about potential dream jobs, your next step is to explore these jobs further by talking with people who actually do the work that interests you. Having filled in your Parachute diagram and read about a few dozen jobs, you should now be able to name three different fields or jobs that might match your parachute. By talking with people in the fields that interest you or to people doing the same job you want, you get a more accurate picture of what the work entails, especially if you meet with your interview subject at the worksite.

In career exploration and job-search classes, this informal research goes by many names. You’ll hear it called networking, field research, doing information interviews, and other phrases. Essentially, it’s just gathering information you need by talking to people.


The older you get, the more you’ll hear the word “networking.” Networking is about using connections to reach your goals. It is a big part of today’s job-search and career strategies. Your choices of jobs, colleges, courses to take, and skills to learn will all be influenced by the way you network. Whether you want to find a new veterinarian, a new dance club, or a new job, networking can help.

Networking can be done formally or informally.

Informal networking
happens when you are trying to uncover a resource or learn more about an issue, hobby, or activity. If you’ve ever asked someone where they bought their cool shoes or tried to find an extra ticket to a must-see concert, you’ve done informal networking.

For example, Jesse likes to build and fly remote-control model planes. He’s got a summer job working at a residential camp for eight weeks that’s several hours away from where he lives. Jesse is going to take a couple of planes with him so he can fly them when he’s not working. He wants to find other people in the area who fly model planes. How can he do that?

If Jesse belongs to a club, he can ask members if they know of a club near the camp or anyone in that area who flies model planes. He could also see if there’s a hobby store in the town nearest the camp and ask there about a club or if there is a local airstrip for remote-control planes. Jesse might find helpful information on the Internet or in a magazine dedicated to the sport. From such articles, Jesse might find a club near his work or the names of people he can contact for more information about where to fly his planes.

Formal networking
is more focused. Information interviewing is an example of formal networking. Your focus is to gather information about current conditions and trends in specific fields or jobs.

Whether you contact people through the Internet or face-to-face, getting good career information or getting a job is still a people-to-people activity. You will find more job opportunities through formal networking than you ever will through the want ads. Through networking you can also find

• What the work environment is like and whether it suits you.
• The jargon, trends, and issues of the field.
• Mentors and leaders in the field or industry that interests you.
• Ideas for better or faster ways to get job qualifications.

Networking is a skill you want to get good at, because you’ll need to use it throughout your life.

Information Interviews

Your parents, relatives, parents of your friends, teachers, or other adults can help you find people who have jobs you’re curious about. You can also find people to talk with through the local Yellow Pages and the Internet, or by sending out a request through Facebook, MySpace, or any other social networking site to which you belong. Talk to at least three people with a particular job or career before you decide whether to toss it out or pursue it as a goal. Each person’s experience with and feelings about the job will vary. Try to gather the most accurate information about the job that you can. By talking with more than one person, you’re likely to get a more balanced view of a job.

If you’re shy or haven’t had much experience talking to people about their work, build your skills by doing practice interviews. Before you begin interviewing people about jobs that interest you, talk with people doing jobs that you’re curious about but don’t necessarily want to do yourself. Or talk with people doing jobs that relate to your hobbies or interests—topics you know something about and really like to talk about. If you do two to five practice interviews, you’ll learn what it feels like to have a conversation about a mutual interest. Talking about something you enjoy isn’t scary or intimidating at all! By doing practice interviews, you can learn how to gather information about jobs without having to worry about the possibility that someday you’ll be working with or for this person.
If you think doing information interviews is lame, terrifying, or pointless, please read
Make Things Happen
by Lara Zielin (Lobster Press, 2003). This book is fun and easy to read and gives you the complete lowdown on how and why to do information interviews (also called “networking”) in 106 pages. The book has a great explanation of the Six Degrees of Separation and how it is used in job hunting.

You can do some of these interviews over the phone. It’s even better, though, to interview people at their worksites so you can see the work environment. (How does it compare to your ideal work environment, which you listed on your parachute?) Until you see the actual work setting for particular jobs, you won’t have a complete picture of what doing each job will really be like. And here’s a safety tip: never go alone to an information interview if you
are meeting a stranger (even though someone you trust made the recommendation). If you are not doing your interview over the phone or email, always meet at a worksite when other people are around.

Setting Up Information Interviews


Speak with a worker actually doing the job that interests you. This person’s boss may be easier to find, and you may need to talk with the boss to get connected with someone who does the job you want information about. But don’t stop with the person in charge. You need to know what it’s like to do the job from an employee perspective.


Often you will. If the jobs that interest you are in retail stores or fairly public businesses or places, you may be able to walk in at a slow time and find someone who will talk with you. “What’s it like to work here?” is an easy way to get someone talking.

But if the job or organization you want to learn more about is far away or limits public access, or if the person doing the work is very busy, you’ll need to make an appointment for a fifteen-minute conversation. You can make the appointment by phone.

BOOK: What Color Is Your Parachute?
13.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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