Before the summer of 2016, I had no concept of the value of informational interviews. During a goal setting exercise for my internship program in Washington, D.C., my supervisor asked me to come up with a few personal and professional goals to work toward throughout the summer. I decided I may as well meet with each of my colleagues in my department and get to know them better. Most of the time these meetings, though I didn’t think to call them this at the time, were informational interviews. Usually they were informal; we met over coffee and talked about their work experience, my career goals, and how they could help me in deciding where to go to graduate school or what job opportunities to explore. What I thought would just be a task to mark off my internship checklist turned out to be the highlight of my summer.
Since then, I have taken advantage of every opportunity I have had to meet the people I work with and ask them what advice they have for a soon-to-be college graduate. At El Pomar I met with each of the second and third year Fellows as well as a few staff and leadership personnel, picking their brains about college degrees, finding my way in the workforce, and making the most of opportunities presented to me. Here are some of my top takeaways from these conversations:
- When you don’t know which direction to go next, choose one path to go down for a while and if it isn’t right for you, make a course adjustment and try another path.
- Study and work in a field that you are passionate about. You can always be trained to have certain skills for a job, but passion is not something you can be taught.
- Network, network, network. You never know what opportunities the people you meet will be able to connect you with!
My summer internship at El Pomar was incredibly rewarding both professionally and personally. I cherished my time meeting the people who make this organization so successful and learned much about myself and my passions. As I finish my undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Dallas, I look forward to utilizing the skills and advice I gained while working with El Pomar Foundation and continuing to grow my network through informational interviews.