Using informational interviews to increase career knowledge and build professional communication skills Faculty Spark - View, reflect and apply

Last updated on 08/05/2019

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Description

Within a capstone Health course, students were required to conduct informational interviews with industry professionals to gain a greater understanding of their chosen discipline.

Challenge

Students studying within the generic Health programs have a wide range of career pathways. There are many opportunities for different career streams, however the number of choices can also be quite overwhelming.

With limited opportunity to interact with the different industries until they graduate, and no formalised Workplace Integrated Learning (WIL), the challenge was to give these students an opportunity to learn more about different career options before they graduated so they were more prepared for their career of choice.

Approach

In a third year capstone biomedical science course, students are required to complete a 15% overall assignment in informational interviewing. In the first semester, students work individually to conduct an interview of a professional from their chosen health related discipline. This provides them with a better understanding of their chosen profession.

Students identify and find the industry professional themself, they then interview their chosen professional either via face to face, over the phone or via Skype. Interviews take between 30-60 minutes.

Students undergo preparation via a one hour workshop covering:

  • Professional dress
  • Telephone and email scripts
  • How to get past gatekeepers
  • How to find professional contacts within their own networks
  • 150 informational interview questions
  • Practicing handshaking

Students then present their findings in the form of a poster, based on information collected from the interviews. Staff graded these posters and awarded 10% of the grade for the item, with peer evaluation by students making up the remaining 15% of the grade. Students were required to peer review a minimum of 5 works from other students.

The posters were then displayed at an industry networking event in Week 13.

Outcomes

The idea of investigating the networks they were a part of included saying hi to their next door neighbour.

One student cardiac surgeon, went home and said hello to their neighbour and introduced himself. The neighbour was the wife of a leading cardiac surgeon on the Coast. Out of that meeting, the student secured work experience for the next year with the clinic and now volunteers there.

At the end of the exercise, all industry partners were invited to a celebration in Week 13. This activity increased the range of industry contacts for the school, with students also having the opportunity to link up with a range of industry professionals. Other students ended up with jobs after work experience with their informational interviewee.

The posters were placed up on the wall for all to see and share their findings, students could look at other posters to get a better understanding of other disciplines as well. By undertaking this exercise, students had a clearer idea about where they wanted to go with their degree or their discipline. It:

  • developed an awareness of multiple professional pathways that can be taken upon graduation
  • developed skills in informational interviewing
  • concisely presented relevant information regarding an industry professional

Implement

If you would like to implement a similar approach in your teaching practice:

  • Connect with a strong industry network if possible
  • Encourage academics to enhance their industry networks to increase the candidates for students to contact
  • Fnd out who your students want to pair with, and connect with those industry professionals first
  • Clarify if this is a discipline they want to conduct the informational interview
  • Find space and obtain funding for a celebration that allows industry professionals and students to get to know each other

Griffith Graduate Attributes

The use of informational interviews clearly aligns to Griffiths’ Graduate Attributes of:

  • 1. Knowledgeable and skilled with critical judgement
  • 2. Effective communicators and collaborators
  • 3. Innovative, creative and entrepreneurial

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Licence

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Preferred Citation

Vanderlelie, J., and Learning Futures (2019). Using informational interviews to increase career knowledge and build professional communication skills. Retrieved from https://app.secure.griffith.edu.au/exlnt/entry/3767/view