Why Do We Do Informational Interviews?
Specific information and details about our desired career field is not always accessible on Internet or in books; and most of the time the information that we are seeking about a specific company is no where to be found except from the actual source and that is what makes informational interviewing so great. By performing an informational interview with an employee from a company of interest gives you, the interviewer behind the scenes insight, knowledge, and tips that you can’t find anywhere about that company. When you do an informational interview you can learn the inside scoop on specific details, the pros and cons of the position/company, interview tips and hints, a realistic description of a typical work day, career path insights, etc.
Conducting The Informational Interview:
At first I had trouble thinking of how to get in contact with someone in the Business Marketing field but then I remembered my sister use to work for an advertising agency called, Saatchi and Saatchi Wellness. Their purpose is to help companies “transform clients’ businesses, brands, and reputations”. I could have interviewed my sister but I wanted to get the full experience of how to conduct a informational interview. So, she gave me Steven a project manager for the company to get in contact with. I wrote to Steven’s email stating how I got his email (even though my sister already gave him a heads up I would be contacting him), I got straight to the point of why I was emailing him, and available flexible dates and times I could call him, and I thanked him. He got back to me quite quickly and I replied appreciative and confirmed the date of his choosing. I researched information and recent news about the company before I called him so, I didn’t sound completely clueless. Being prepared also helped our conversation flow less awkwardly than if I didn’t look up basic background information. I made a long list of various open-ended question on a Word Document. I felt really nervous and I was dreading to talking to a stranger. I don’t even like to order pizza. So, just imagine how hard it was for me to call a professional person in the real world. But, Steven was actually really nice and easy to talk to. He was open and gave elaborate answers so I was never begging for more details. When I did not completely understand something, he explained things with less complicated terms. I was respectable of Steven’s time and I didn’t take longer than 15-20 minutes-like I stated in my first email. When wrapping up our conversation I said that politely that I wanted to be mindful of his time, and how much time we had left on the phone. When our time was up, I thanked him for his insight and helping me in the right direction towards my career path. I sent a follow up email to show my gratitude and if I impressed him, maybe we can potentially develop networking relationships. I also mentioned in my email something specifically interesting that he said during our conversation to show I was really listening and that he was helpful.
What I Learned From The Interview:
From what I learned, I’m on the right track by majoring in Business Marketing and minoring in Electronic Media and Sociology. He majored in Business Marketing with no minors. I was a little surprised to know that your GPA from college doesn’t really matter when applying to his company, or really any other marketing company usually. Having substantial work experience and internships are more important to brag about during an interview than grades. Internships aren’t necessary but, it helped him in this field because he learned skills in marketing, math, multi-tasking, and time management (which this job field usually requires). Graduate school, specific credentials or licenses, and certificates are not required-but having a project management certificate looks good on your resume.
Steven was referred to Saatchi and Saatchi Wellness by a friend. He got his first interview call and then he had two in person interviews. He started as a project producer/coordinator. A typical entry-level salary usually starts around $40,000 a year. This position does not need to go through any external training. You learn as you go. Once you accept a position at this company, they will teach you through internal training how they handle their routing process, medical regulatory laws, and how to make sure all the materials are corresponding with subscribing information. They do offer online training for Excel, Medial Rights Upload Portal (program where the government sees materials before they’re advertisements and campaigns are in the market). He does recommend that you know how to use Microsoft Project. Although, when it comes to learning and skills, Steven feels as if you reach a Plato in project management and your learning stops. It’s all about applying once you know everything you need to know. If you like to keep learning, this career is probably not for you. Highest career growth is his department/field is Senior Project Manager and they usually make about $80,000 a year. He believes the employment outlook in this career field has a high demand because marketing is a turn over. Project management skills can be used anywhere, you don’t have to just use those skills in Marketing. With job experience in this company, his position, or a Marketing background, you can get you a job pretty much anywhere as long as your tie in your skills with what your potential employer is looking for. He has gotten promoted recently to the Project Manager-he says, “as long as your obtain project manager skills they will promote you”. Skills and personal characteristics he feels contribute the most to success in this industry are being calm, collective, and a productive multi-tasker. You also need to know that some things aren’t going to always work out the way you wanted them to so, you need to have a mentality of “it is what it is”. It’s also important to be assertive but nice at the same time to build relationships. If you are not nice to people in this field, they aren’t going to t want to help you; and this job requires a lot of communication and favors.
As Project Manager, he described his position as the “middle man” for account services and the creative department. He has to make sure deadlines are met, that account services are working on budgets, and that the creative department is working on the right priorities. He has to make sure everyone on his team is reviewing the client’s advertisement, fact checking, that the company has legal rights for photography and artwork, and in general-that everything looks good. His work is predominately in groups and teams: project management, creative team, and account services. Project management involves working side by side with department teams (listed above) and people outside their company. They need to build relationships with third party vendors and communicate with clients to make sure their needs are met. Unfortunately, communicating with this many different people can sometimes create a significant amount of conflict. There is conflict because clients have certain deadlines that are tight and sometimes the creative department will push back on deadlines. This backs everyone else’s work up. He also doesn’t enjoy the unpredictability this job requires at times. Some campaigns and advertisements “need to be live at a drop of a hat” which makes work days not the typical 9-5. On a positive note, he finds this job to be exciting because his team gets to predict what the client wants and then adapt to any changes the client needs. It’s also super fast paced so you are never on a project for too long and get bored. Although, sometimes projects are too fast paced and this creates a lot of stress. He loves working on commercials because they go through a lot of brainstorming sessions and you get to hear a lot of creative ideas.