Scroll to the bottom to learn about Informational Interviews!

Career Exploration

Making choices about your major and career path can be challenging. Business Career Services is available to  guide you through the process.  We'll  provide you with resources and expertise to help you explore and discover.

As you embark on your journey to identify your career path, remember that there are two important components:

1.) knowledge of one's own strengths (talents), interests and work/life values

2.) knowledge of the world of work and careers that are available

Career Exploration Resources

Provides in-depth intelligence on what it’s really like to work in an industry, company or profession, and how to position yourself to land that job. Search current jobs and internships, research a company, school or industry, get the inside scoop on what it’s really like, and find the career advice you need to launch your career.

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The O*NET Interest Profiler can help you find out what your interests are and how they relate to the world of work. You can find out what you like to do.

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Career One Stop

Career One Stop provides you with the tools to help you explore your own interests, skills, values and decision making style. You can also explore career options and opportunities.

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Holland Occupational Themes

The Holland Occupational Themes is a theory of personality that focuses on career and vocational choice. It groups people on the basis of their suitability for six different categories of occupations. The six types yield the RIASEC acronym, by which the theory is also commonly known. The theory was developed by John L. Holland over the course of his career.

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Occupational Outlook Handbook

The Occupational Outlook Handbook is the government's premier source of career guidance featuring hundreds of occupations.

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The Student's Guide to Choosing a Major

Choosing a major field of study can be a difficult decision. In fact, 61% of college graduates would change their major if they could go back to school. Ultimately, students must decide which field will offer the best return-on-investment for their postsecondary education.

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Recommended Resource: Careers from

Want to know what a career is really like...

Ask someone with firsthand experience.

An informational interview is one of the most valuable sources of occupational information.  An informational interview is a brief meeting between a person who wants to investigate a career and a person working in that career. The interviews usually last 20 to 30 minutes at the most. The purpose of an informational interview is not to get a job. Instead, the goal is to find out about jobs you might like-to see if they fit your interests and personality.

How To Conduct an Informational Interview

How to Find People to Speak With

• Talk to people you know!  This includes family, friends, teaching assistants, professors and former employers.

•Utilize LinkedIn to connect with Gies alums

Sample Email:  Hello, my name is _____________ and I am a freshmen/sophomore/junior/senior at the University of Illinois in the Gies College of Business. I am currently enrolled in a class that encourages us to explore different types of careers. I'm considering a career in _________ and would like to learn as much as I can about the field. I was wondering if I could schedule a time to talk with you for about 10-20 minutes to ask you a few questions about your career?

• Contact student organizations, professional or trade associations.

• Emphasize that you are looking for information, not a job.

• Ask for a convenient time to have a 20-30 minute appointment/phone call or to meet for coffee.

Preparing for the Interview

• Research the person and organization that you will be interviewing  (LinkedIn is a good place to start)

• Develop a short (15-30 second) overview of yourself, including your reasons for contacting this person, as a way to introduce yourself and define the context of the meeting.

• Plan open-ended questions to ask:

How do you get into this line of work?

What kinds of projects do you work on?

What do you like most and least about your work?

What are the personal qualities of people who are successful in this field?

How would you describe a typical week in terms of the percentage of time spent on the different aspects of your job?

What kinds of backgrounds do people in this organization (field) have?

Conducting the Interview

• Dress professionally, as you would for a job interview in that industry.

• Arrive on time or a few minutes early.

• Restate that your objective is to get information and advice, not a job.

• Be prepared to direct the interview, but also let the conversation flow naturally, and encourage the interviewee to do most of the talking.

• Listen well and show genuine interest in what the person has to say.

• Take notes if you'd like.

• Respect the person's time. Keep the meeting length within the agreed-upon timeframe.

• Ask the person if you may contact them again in the future with other questions.

• Ask for names of other people to meet so as to gain different perspectives

Follow up and Build a Relationship

• Reflect on your conversation.  Right after the interview write down what you learned, what more you'd like to know and your impressions of how this industry, field or position would fit with your lifestyle, interests, skills and future plans.

• Send a thank-you note within 1-2 days to express your appreciation for the time and information given.

Send a LinkedIn request (if you haven't already).

• Keep in touch with the person, especially if you had a particularly nice interaction; let him or her know that you followed up on their advice and how things are going as a result. This relationship could become an important part of your network.