Author: Kyle Huck
Posted: April 19, 2018
A few months ago I began the daunting process of job searching and shared the uncertainties I was facing. Now I’m excited to announce my search is over. That’s right — I got a job. In fact, I’ve already started part time. After graduation I’ll switch to full time as a Program Manager for a small marketing agency called Opus Creative. This company saw the value I offer as an MBA with a creative background, and they offered me an amazing career opportunity. Here’s the thing: this didn’t stem from a job board or an online application; it all started with an informational interview.
The time for an informational interview is now.
You know how we’re always being told to build up our network? It’s not just so you can add to your LinkedIn connections. Portland is tightly knit. Reach out to the people you know and the people your people know. Don’t be afraid to play the student card (while you still can). I think you’ll find people are happy to lend you an hour of their time. Chances are somebody did them a favor at some point.
What you’ll get out of it.
I’ll be honest. I underestimated the value of an informational interview. After I did one I was eager to arrange a few more. First of all, there’s no pressure. I didn’t have the butterflies that come with an actual job interview. You get to be yourself in a relaxed setting and build rapport with professionals in your field. Don’t forget to follow up (yes, even send that LinkedIn request) and thank them. A hand-written thank-you goes a long way in the digital age.
My handful of conversations with marketing/creative agencies around town helped me understand what I’m looking for — and what’s not for me. I got to see how others built their careers in the field, and it’s rarely ever a straight path. The randomness was actually a little reassuring. I got advice about how to hone my resume and better sell myself. One of the most valuable takeaways was where they saw me fitting into an organization. We tend to set boundaries for ourselves based on our experience, but others can help us realize we have more than one way to contribute.
Get the answers you want.
First talk about them. Then talk about you. Here are some of the questions I asked to uncover the details mentioned above:
How did you build a career in the field? (You should already have an idea, because you already stalked their LinkedIn profile).
What’s it like here? (This may seem vague, but it helps steer the discussion toward team dynamics and culture).
What projects are you working on? What’s rewarding about the field? What’s challenging?
How do I leverage my skills and experience? (Be specific and have your resume in hand).
Where would you see someone like me fitting into a team? What experience, skills, traits do you look for? Any advice for my resume, job search or interviews?
Let the conversation wander. Don’t just take notes and go, “okay next question.” Echo what you’re hearing and try to dig a little deeper.
You never know where it may lead.
So all I have to do is get some informational interviews and someone will hand me a job? I know, I got super lucky. Did I mention it was my first one that eventually turned into an offer? The point is there is much to be gained. I definitely got a confidence boost after meeting professionals with intimidating titles like director or executive. Then, when it was time for the real interview — the one where you know both sides want to reach a deal, the one where your heart’s pounding because it might actually mean a challenging role and an MBA-level paycheck — I was ready because I was clear on exactly what it is I bring to the table.
Kyle Huck is a second year full-time MBA student at Portland State. He is a graduate assistant in the Marketing and Communications department of the School of Business Administration. His background is in graphic design and web-based marketing. He
plans to use is using his MBA to advance his career in the creative/marketing world.