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Should You Use Informational Interviews in Your Job Search?



As a student curious about different industries, employers and positions, conducting research online is a good start, but eventually you’ll need to move onto building relationships through networking. In other words, if you want to know what it means to be an art therapist in a children’s hospital, how to get started and what traits are needed for success, you want to speak with an art therapist at a children’s hospital. Informational interviews can help you make that happen.

What Are Informational Interviews?

Informational interviews represent a way to grow your network, advance your career and find new opportunities. At their core, they are conversations with professionals who can share insights on industries, employers and positions, or even geographical locations. Their main purpose is to gather information: details to help you clarify if something is a good fit, insights to help you identify skill gaps and knowledge to help you customize your applications.

Informational interviews can be part of your exploration or your job search strategy. You can discover possibilities you didn’t know existed or you can learn about a target role you’ve already identified. Such interviews are starting points for professional relationships, which are key to identifying opportunities, securing interviews and getting offers. Through informational interviews, you could be way on your way to designing a career you enjoy.

Consider these steps to start adding informational interviews to your job-search strategy.

1. Clarify What Information You’re Seeking

Are you interested in a field but not sure what context best aligns with your interests, abilities and values? Are you interested in exploring a specific career? Are you curious about potential employers? Or are you excited to learn how to make yourself a competitive candidate? Before you move forward, you need to know your goals. Be specific.

2. Identify People Who Can Provide That Info

Reach out to personal and professional connections for recommendations. Tap into your alumni network. Conduct online research on your target industry and employers (don’t focus on big-name employers only!) to find people in roles you’re curious about. LinkedIn can help with that. Read relevant industry publications (books, blogs, articles), listen to relevant podcasts and follow industry leaders on social media. Before you know it, you’ll have a list of people you could connect with for further insights.

3. Research Each Person Thoroughly

Review each contact’s LinkedIn profile and follow them on Twitter, Instagram or other social media sites. Check if they have a website or published content and identify any commonalities you could use in the outreach message or during the interview. In addition, find out as much as you can about the industry, the company and role — your connection will expect it from you.

Researching potential contacts helps you prepare questions to ask during the informational interview. At the end of the interview, what information would you like to have that will help you move forward with your job search? If you can’t think of anything else to ask other than “do you have a job for me?” you are not ready for informational interviews.

4. Draft a Customized, Clear and Specific Message

People are willing to help, but if they can’t understand what you’re asking, they may not respond. Avoid simply saying that you need help, with no clarification. Your research should give you an idea of why you’re reaching out, so use that to craft an effective outreach message that includes the following points:

  • Introduce yourself.
  • Explain what brings you to them.
  • Have a simple and specific ask.
  • Acknowledge their busy schedule.
  • Express gratitude.

Here’s a Sample Outreach Message:

Hi Amy,

My name is Chris, and I’m a junior interested in international development. I’ve been following your LinkedIn posts for a few months now and am quite intrigued about your work in the field, specifically in Mozambique. I’m curious if you’d be willing to answer questions about getting started in the field and skills you believe are most relevant. I know your schedule is packed so no need to respond in depth. Should you have 10 or so minutes to chat, I’d be really grateful. If not, no worries!

Have a wonderful week!

Chris Rogers

Remember that templates are great to start with, but your goal is to make the message your own. You want it to sound genuine! Don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile and clean up your online presence because the person you reach out to may research you before responding.

5. Prepare Questions

I doubt you want your brand to be “a person who knows nothing and is waiting for someone else to figure it out for them.” People are willing to help those who show commitment to helping themselves first, so don’t go into the informational interview expecting the other person to lead the conversation. The responsibility is on you to be ready to introduce yourself and ask questions (have at least five).

Your questions need to be thoughtful and relevant to the person you are speaking with. Let them talk about themselves: they’ll like you more that way! If the conversation goes well, they may bring up a position themselves and that’s awesome, but don’t be the one to do it. When you ask for a job before establishing a connection, you’d probably be redirected to the main job board, which will prevent the conversation from turning into a meaningful relationship.

Instead, depending on your goal, you could ask about:

  • Their career path: What motivated you to transition from marketing to IT? You’ve been in education for five years: what keeps you engaged?
  • Education, training, skills and credentials needed for success in the industry/role.
  • Day-to-day responsibilities: What do you enjoy most? What’s a challenge you face?
  • The industry’s future: How is AI impacting this industry?
  • Advice and next steps: What do you recommend I read/do/listen to? Who else would you recommend that I reach out to or follow?

Take notes and ask clarifying questions if needed. It shows that you are listening and that you truly want to learn.

6. Follow up and Stay in Touch

An informational interview is not a one-time interaction, so don’t dismiss it as useless if it doesn’t lead to a job offer. An informational interview is simply the first step in building a relationship. Express gratitude at the end of the conversation and follow up with a written thank-you note: mention what you’ve learned and what you plan to do next. If you haven’t already done so, connect with your contact on social media.

Beyond the initial conversation, keep your contacts updated on how their advice helped you move forward. If the person recommends resources (books, blogs, podcasts), check them out and share your takeaways. If they mention a challenge, consider pitching your idea to address it. Give before you take! If they recommend other people to connect with, do so and let them know of your progress.

Final Thoughts

Does preparing for, scheduling and following up on informational interviews take time? Yes it does. Is it worth spending that amount of time? Yes it is. To stay organized, create a spreadsheet with details related to each contact, the interactions you’ve had and any planned follow-ups. Initiate conversations with multiple professionals and gain a robust understanding of the field. The more information you gather, the more knowledge you have and the more confident you become with networking and interviewing.

By: Krasi Shapkarova
Title: Should You Use Informational Interviews in Your Job Search?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Tue, 05 May 2020 12:54:40 +0000

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Apply Online For Student Loans



Apply Online For Student Loans

Applying online for student loans is a convenient and efficient way to secure funding for your education. Whether you are facing financial difficulties or simply want to keep your debts to a minimum, student loans can help alleviate the financial burden while you focus on your studies.

One of the main advantages of student loans is that they typically offer lower interest rates compared to other types of loans. Additionally, repayment is often deferred until after you graduate, giving you time to establish your career and increase your income potential.

By applying online, you have access to a wider range of lenders, allowing you to compare different loan offers and choose the one that best suits your needs. Look for lenders offering competitive interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and any additional incentives that may be available.

Student loans can be used to cover various expenses related to your education, including tuition fees, housing, course materials, and living expenses. While your personal bank may be willing to provide a student loan, applying online gives you more options and potentially better terms.

However, it’s important to remember that student loans are still loans, and you should borrow responsibly. It’s advisable to budget regularly and avoid unnecessary purchases or luxuries to ensure you can manage your loan repayments in the future.

Before applying for student loans, explore other options such as scholarships, grants, or parental funding. These resources can help reduce the amount you need to borrow and minimize your financial obligations.

Lastly, it’s crucial to have confidence in your ability to secure a salary that will enable you to meet your loan repayments after graduation. Work hard to achieve the grades and qualifications necessary for your desired career, as this will increase your chances of finding a well-paying job.

In conclusion, applying online for student loans can provide you with the financial support needed to pursue your education. However, it’s important to borrow responsibly, explore other funding options, and plan for a successful career to ensure you can manage your loan repayments effectively.

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Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid



Many families are facing new financial challenges in light of the coronavirus emergency, and College Confidential has fielded dozens of questions on this topic recently. To address those queries, we hosted a webinar on April 9 entitled “Paying for College Amid Changes Due to the Impact of COVID-19.”

During the event, moderated by Aaron Murphy, manager of learning and development with Inside Track, the following panelists offered their perspectives on the issue:

  • Denise Trusty, director of financial aid with Morehead State University
  • Laura Reisert Kalinkewicz, associate vice president of college partnerships with RaiseMe
  • Amy Nelson, director of sales at International Scholarship and Tuition Services
  • Charlie Javice, founder and CEO of Frank.

Check out the following topics that the panelists discussed, along with their views of how things may unfold amid the financial challenges brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.

Family Finances Changed? Contact Your Schools

If you plan to start college in the fall as a freshman — or return to school as an existing student — and your financial situation has changed since you applied for financial aid, you should contact the colleges on your list immediately. Financial aid departments can consider appeals for more money, but must base these decisions on each individual student’s situation, Trusty said.

“I know with Morehead State, where I work, we will be doing professional judgement calls on all students who say they’ve been affected,” she noted. “We will reach out to those students to see what we can do to help them maybe obtain additional funding, additional grants, scholarships, whatever they would be eligible for. We do professional judgment all the time for our students, because things happen all the time. This year will be an especially large amount of those, I’m sure, but those are up to individual schools to make that call for their students.”

In addition, she added, the Department of Education has set aside over $6 billion for additional grants and scholarships that the universities will be able to use. “Currently, I don’t know how that’s all going to play into this,” Trusty said. “So that will be up to each individual university on how they lay those out. I know it will be beneficial, I just don’t know how available that will be to each student.”

Keep in mind that schools are accustomed to reviewing financial aid appeals, and they all have processes in place for to do so. “It is really, really important to know that schools typically leave a budget from 10 percent to 20 percent or so of their financial aid dollars for what would be called a professional judgment bucket,”Javice said. “Therefore, there is additional money to be had, and it’s up to you to request it. You should approach your school as soon as you know you might need more money, and be prepared to show supporting documentation demonstrating how your finances are different from when you filed your FAFSA initially. This might require proof of a job loss, medical bills, a cut in pay or another such issue, Javice said.

In addition, if another school gave you a better financial offer, you can petition the school that gave you the lower offer for more money, Javice noted. “This typically works better for private institutions versus public state schools, given the fact that they have a little bit more discrepancy and more dollars to put to work in terms of a tuition discount,” she added. “This is solely up to the school on a case by case basis.” In some cases, the money is distributed on a first come, first serve timeline, so don’t wait if you know you need more aid.

Although financial aid can be a stressful topic, try not to be emotional when you request more money, Javice added. You’ll get a lot further by having organized documentation to present than you would by getting angry or upset, she noted.

Consider Outside Scholarships

The coronavirus situation has changed plans not only for incoming freshmen, but also for current college students, Nelson said. “Organizations are stepping up and trying to find ways to provide additional scholarship opportunities this year,” she noted. Students should be proactive in seeking those options.

Raise Me is offering new micro-scholarships for students who are seeking additional funding sources, Kalinkewicz said. In addition, she encourages students to ask colleges for more time to make decisions, even if the school hasn’t extended its deposit process. You can always try and request additional time to get your financial aid package right, she noted.

Finding more money is not relegated to younger students, Javice added. “Adult learners comprise the biggest group of people actually going to college today,” she noted. It’s very common for people to be seeking new types of skills and going back to college to gain additional degrees. Financial aid is available to adult learners, and they may even get aid to pay such costs as rent, she added. In addition, they can seek outside scholarships or employer-matching funds to pay for their educations.

Not Necessarily Too Late to File FAFSA

Students who didn’t file a FAFSA already should do that as soon as possible so you can get access to financial aid funds, Javice said. Federal FAFSA deadlines are usually in June, but states make their own deadlines for state aid. Some states, such as New Jersey, have moved their deadlines back for this year, so check to make sure you stay on top of your deadlines.

And if you file for financial aid and you decide you don’t want it, you can always decline the financial offer or portions of that offer, Nelson said. Your best bet is to apply so you can take what you need and decline any amounts you don’t need. Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should apply anyway because you could be surprised at what you’re offered. “You really need to complete that [FAFSA] process every year,” Nelson said. “The process is very easy, and jobs can come and go. It’s your safety net and you want to make sure you’ve completed it. It makes it a whole lot easier when situations like this arise.”

Some colleges also have supplemental applications to fill out for particular types of aid, so always reach out to your financial aid office for information on which documentation you should be completing, Kalinkewicz said.

Could Families — Not Schools — Be in the Driver’s Seat?

Because many merit scholarships are based on test scores and GPAs, some high school juniors are concerned that they won’t have access to those in the coming year. With test dates being canceled and grades moving to pass/fail, they fear they won’t meet the criteria to earn such scholarships.

“It’s clear to me that colleges and universities know the extraordinary circumstances we’re under,” Nelson said. “All schools are leaning forward and considering all options as the situation develops. I would continue to encourage juniors to stay engaged and stay informed.” You should also watch to see what happens with test dates, she said. The ACT and SAT dates could change, and some schools may forego the need for a test score altogether, she added.

In addition, some merit scholarships that have traditionally been based on test scores may become test optional, Kalinkewicz noted.

Keep in mind that in many cases, families are in the driver’s seat rather than having the colleges be in charge, Javice said. Some schools have lost revenue and are very eager for students right now, “so if you are scared because you thought you could never get into a specific school from an admission criteria standpoint, this is your year to stretch, this is your year to think about the schools that are your reach category and go for it, because schools need the money and need the students. So the power that used to be in an admissions office is in you, the student or the family’s hands,” she said.

She also advises juniors to request application waivers from schools to save the $50 to $100 or so per application that they would normally pay. The schools may say no, but it won’t hurt to ask, she advised. “Persistence is key when dealing with schools,” Javice noted.

Federal Student Loans Payment Suspended

As many families are aware, payments on federal student loans are automatically suspended from March 13 through September 30, 2020 thanks to the government’s CARES Act. This is essential to keep in mind, particularly for families that have multiple children in various stages of the college process.

“You will stop paying your loans and you will have zero interest from now until September 30, and that’s important for parents to know,” Nelson said regarding existing federal student loans. “If you had an auto draft, the auto draft has been shut off and will not continue. You can, however, continue to make those payments if you’d like, and any interest you had before March 13, once that interest is paid up, all your payments will go directly toward your principal.” She advises families with federally-backed loans to check with their loan servicing agents, because they have a lot of information for both parent and student borrowers on how the CARES Act will impact payments for the next six months.

Student Job Gone? Colleges Might Help

For students who expect to earn money via part-time or full-time work to pay for college, but can’t do so due to the coronavirus, colleges may have resources to help. “There are many colleges and universities that have put together emergency grants for students to cover expenses that they were maybe not expecting because of COVID-19,” Nelson said. “They are making accommodations to try and make up for that lost income for students.”

Trusty said Morehead State is continuing to pay students who were on federal work-study. “If they had a job, we are still paying them right now as if they were working, although they are not. In the summer, those funds will be flipped over to emergency grant funds. So we will make sure that our students are covered and can live as if they were employed with the work-study position.”

Some colleges have even made remote work available to students, Kalinkewicz added. Therefore, contact your financial aid office to determine if any accommodations are available to make up for lost student income whenever possible.

Consider Other Options to Save

If you are seeking ways to save money on college, you should also consider other resources, whether that means less expensive colleges, in-state options or potentially transferring down the road, Janice said. You can also save money by taking classes at a community college to pay a lower cost for your credits that can be transferred to a four-year college later.

“If you have that target institution in mind — maybe you’ve already been admitted there but your family has determined a year of community college will really help stretch things further — work on articulation agreements or a plan so you are taking the right classes that actually have the ability to transfer toward the degree you want at your target institution, not necessarily just as credit,” Kalinkewicz said.

In addition, many colleges offer merit aid for transfer students, she added. So always look for every potential financial aid and scholarship resource to best maximize your package and allow your dollars to stretch as far as possible.

Resource: To review the entire hour-long webinar, you can watch the replay here.

Share Your Thoughts

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Check out our forum to contribute to the conversation!

By: Torrey Kim
Title: Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid
Sourced From:
Published Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2020 15:22:20 +0000

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