I thought getting a job was simple. You send in your resume, get called in for an interview, and then get an offer if you’re lucky. Well, not really. Networking is a huge part of getting a job, and informational interviews are a great way to network and find out more about what career path you want to follow.

One of the things I learned when I first got here was how to do informational interviews. It’s when you talk to someone with work experience in a field you’re interested in, either via phone, Skype, or in person. The table is turned a little, because you are conducting the interview.

During the process, you can find out more about a certain job function, company, or industry. You can also build a relationship with the person you interviewed by following up from time to time, and if you build a good rapport, they may even volunteer to look over your resume and cover letter, or even refer you to someone who can give you more detailed information.

Now all this was completely new to me. So you can imagine how nervous I was when I had my first informational interview with my Volunteer Alumni Career Fellow (VACF). In short, VACF is an alumni mentoring program. I talked to my assigned Fuqua alumna on Skype about her job, how she got to where she is, her company culture, the specific skill-sets needed to succeed in a marketing job, and so forth. She also connected me with someone at an advertising agency in New York City who I got to meet in person during fall break, and was generous enough to take the time to talk to me about her job and showed me around her company.

Making Connections

Being a part of the Fuqua family helps so much in finding connections like this. At an etiquette dinner for Duke graduate students, I met a first-year Daytime MBA student who later sat down with me to tell me about his previous job as an assistant brand manager (ABM). I’ve also talked to a Director at Heinz; an ABM who worked on Lipton tea at Procter & Gamble; a Global Supply Manager at Apple; a Daytime MBA student who previously worked for two advertising firms, and more. The Fuqua name really helps you network, which is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to come to Duke.

Before I came to Fuqua, I was almost certain that I wanted to do brand management. Now that I’ve talked to a lot of great people who are willing to help, I’ve learned about the amazing world of advertising, and I’ve expanded my horizon. Hopefully, by talking to more people, I’ll be able to narrow down my career choices. We’ll see what I end up wanting to do the most!