Networking can be a pretty intimidating idea, especially for engineering students. It may seem like everyone knows someone except for you. But networking can be one of your most successful tools for growing your network base if you know how to navigate the networking world. A great method for getting the most out of a networking opportunity is by conducting an informational interview. This is a brief conversation with a professional in your desired field where you have the opportunity to ask questions about their work and the work of others in their field. By gaining this information, you may be better prepared to
The first step to conducting an informational interview is finding professionals to connect with. Some of the most useful ways to go about forming these connections are through LinkedIn, through professionals in your life, and through Mentor Match.
First, LinkedIn can be a great tool to connect you with people who can provide you with useful information. One function that is particularly useful is using the Alumni tab on the Binghamton University LinkedIn page. This allows you to see the over 70,000 Binghamton alumni who are active on LinkedIn. You can also apply more filters to this search to find those in specific fields and locations.
Second is networking with the people in your life. You may not think it, but you are surrounded by professionals! A great outlet for making these connections is through your professors. Connecting with those who are teaching your major classes can put you in contact with their network that is bound to be rich with opportunities to learn!
One more (but certainly not the last) way to find professionals to connect with is through Mentor Match. This is a program through Binghamton University that matches students with alumni who share the same career interests or field. All it takes to find a perfectly matched mentor is completing the registration process online. Once matched, you can conduct informational interviews with these professionals to broaden your industry knowledge and network.
Now that you have professionals who you are interested in connecting with, it is time to conduct informational interviews! The best strategy for this is to have a set of questions that you would like to ask in order to get the most out of the interview. Remember, you are the interviewer! Inquire about what a day in their shoes looks like, some projects that they are currently working on, how they went from a university student to an industry professional, and anything else you are curious about. By collecting this information, you will be able to paint a more clear picture of what your career interests are and where you should be headed on a path to the career that you want to pursue!