Arranging informational interviews with recent graduates working in renewable energy is the single most important networking step you must take. The strategy is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. You don’t ask for a job or to be recommended. Your interviewee does not know you and quite likely has little influence over recruiting in any event. No one wants to say “no,” so these requests usually get ignored.
Instead, your goal is to ask questions to get your interviewee to tell their story about how they got their awesome job at your dream renewables company. Most of us like to talk about ourselves; it’s the human condition, plus, many of us love to give back and help out. So asking about one’s background and story is something that will elicit great conversation. Your goal here is to get information and make a deeper connection. It is important to understand that it is the quality and not just the quantity of the connections that matter in this context.
This form of interviewing is a polite way to gather information (tips that worked for the interviewee) and to develop the interviewee’s trust. You want to make a good impression so the person remembers you when the call is over. Some (not all) of these people will help you in the long run. For example, they will hear of future opportunities and will get back to you if they enjoyed chatting with you. They may even mention you to the “hiring person” at their company in the future. If you actually are eligible and qualified for a specific job (then open at that company), it will get discussed naturally at the end of the call.
But, this strategy takes time and patience. You need to do this with a lot of people (way more than 2 or 3) and months in advance of graduating/interning – shop when you don’t need to buy!
If you liked this article, you may want to read, “Informational Interviews – Finding and Requesting Informational Interviews” and “Finding the Common Ground – The most effective networking tool”