Kicking off the Training Wheels.

by: Mike Hector, iMC student

Change.  In many respects it can be downright horrifying, especially when you end up facing a significant amount of it all at once.  However, it’s also an exhilarating experience rife with opportunity and self-discovery.  That is of course, if you do the work, harness the fear, and convert it to pure energy. 

To avoid a lengthy history lesson here’s the Cole’s Notes:

I’m 35 years young, and grew up in a family business environment.  For a better part of my life everything seemed to be on a linear, predictable path.  However unforeseen circumstances, and a rather unpleasant chain of events saw to it that this pre-determined career path was no longer viable.  So, I made the decision to return to school in order to polish up my skill-set, and begin carving a new professional destiny.

I had already graduated what is now called the Advertising, and Marketing Communications Management Program nine years ago.  This was during the age when the closest thing to social media was Myspace.  Since then, the marketing world has been flipped on its head, and the game has changed immensely.  The Interactive Marketing Communications program has presented me with not only a much needed refresher, but also the skills and tactical ability to tackle this newly evolved digital marketing challenge with confidence.

As part of my program’s curriculum, we have to secure a six-week work placement in our field in order to gain valuable hands-on experience before taking our first steps into the workforce.  These placements are a superb opportunity to essentially test-drive a position, and get a feel for different responsibilities and disciplines within the menagerie of marketing roles out there.

One key component of obtaining a placement is the Information Interview. Unlike a job interview, the tables are essentially turned in this scenario.  When interviewing for a job, it’s essentially “all about you”.  In an informational interview, you’re essentially shopping for that awesome position and it’s the “employers” turn on the hot-seat.  It’s an exciting networking opportunity and a chance to glean as much as possible about a company while still “strutting your stuff.”

Sounds easy right? Essentially it is, however there are some key questions you should ask, to not only show your genuine interest in the company, but to also get a much needed preview of what working with your placement prospects will be like.  It’s essential to start the questions off on a positive note.

Here are my top 5 questions to ask during an information interview:

  1. What is the most rewarding aspect of working with this company/field? 
  2. What is the most challenging aspect of working with this company/field? 
  3. How would you describe the “culture” or “atmosphere” within the organization? 
  4. What are your expectations of Placement Candidates?
  5. Has the company ever hired placement students before?  (try to get a feel for a potential career-path, or at least indicate that you are serious, and career-minded)

There are several different questions which you can also ask, and there are several resources online which you can find with a simple google search. In addition, St. Lawrence College’s placement coaches, and faculty are an excellent resource for helping prepare you for this crucial element of “career crafting.” 

However, you must be serious, and willing to put in your share of the work.  The faculty won’t simply find a placement for you as though it were a simple matchmaking service.  They can point you in the right direction, help you determine a career path that pairs well with your skills, and even help get your foot in the door for the information interview.  Once you step through that door however, the training wheels are off, and the rest is up to you.

For more information on preparing for an information interview, speak to your professors or a student success facilitator TODAY.  As well, you can purchase a copy of SLC’s very own (and aptly titled) book:  Get A Job! Available in the campus bookstore for less than ten bucks!  It’s full of in-depth activities and information that will help you get sorted, and take these first steps toward your career with confidence.   


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