Using Information Interviews and Shadowing to Find Your Career

The best way to explore a potential career choice is by speaking with and/or following someone who works in that career.

  • Do an information interview. Learn first-hand about your chosen profession by asking questions about tasks, business environment, and educational background.
  • Shadow a professional. Follow someone in your career choice as they go through a typical day or week on the job. Ask questions and observe the work.

Finding a Profession(al)

Finding someone to interview or shadow is not difficult. Ask your friends and your family members if they know someone you can interview. Ask your professors for recommendations of professionals in the field. Go to your career development office. They can help you identify some potential contacts.

Next, call or write a letter requesting an information interview or job shadowing. People who like their jobs tend to enjoy talking about them. You compliment the professional by expressing an interest in the career. In your phone call or letter, explain how you found the person you want to interview and request time for an appointment. Emphasize that you want to find out more about the career—you’re not looking for a job. If you’re lucky, the professional you contact may have other colleagues you can interview also.

Asking Questions

Take notes during your time with the professional. Here are some questions you might ask:

  1. What is your typical workday like?
  2. What do you like most (and least) about your job?
  3. What skills/abilities are most important to succeed in this job?
  4. What is your educational background?
  5. How did you get started in this field?
  6. What courses were most helpful to you and which would you recommend?
  7. What is the best way to get started in this field?
  8. Do you have any additional advice to help me prepare?

Following Up Your Interview

Review your notes. What was your impression? Did you leave the interview feeling as if you can envision a future in this occupation or were you discouraged—you don’t feel you learned enough about the occupation or the job description doesn’t sound appealing any longer?

Take your thoughts and concerns to the career center staff and get feedback on the next step to take in your career exploration. You may want to do additional information interviews in this career path or you may want to reexamine your goals and find a different path for your interests.

No matter what you decide, send a thank-you note to anyone you interview or shadow. Whether you decide to forge ahead on that career path or find another one, this professional may be a good person to network with when you begin your job search.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, copyright holder. www.naceweb.org

Locations
  • CHICAGO DOWNTOWN CAMPUS

    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
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  • ELGIN

    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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  • NORTH SHORE

    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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  • LISLE

    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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  • WHEELING

    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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  • FLORIDA (TAMPA)

    Established in 1988 and located in one of the city's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to six classrooms, this location features a conference room, a computer lab with high-speed Internet access, an extensive research library and comfortable student lounges.

    5110 Eisenhower Boulevard Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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  • WISCONSIN

    NLU's Milwaukee campus has a proud history of serving graduate students in education in southeastern Wisconsin. Nearly one in five certified Wisconsin teachers looks to NLU for graduate education programs – more than any other university in the state. In addition to classrooms with high-tech media equipment, the campus offers a state-of-the-art computer lab with wireless Internet access and an extensive IDS research library.

    12000 West Park Place, Suite 100
    Milwaukee, WI 53224-3007
    (414) 577.2658
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