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Katie Thiel

Katie Thiel ’10

August 2009

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An informational interview can help land the job

Imagine turning the tables on prospective employers during an interview – asking them the questions about their business and their goals while having the opportunity to make an impact on a potential hirer.

That’s the proactive approach – known as informational interviewing – that won Katie Thiel ’10 a 40-hour-per-week paid marketing internship at the city of Appleton’s parks and recreation department this summer. What’s more, the manager didn’t have a vacancy at the time. Thiel’s approach put the idea in his head, and she recently started her internship.

“In the interview, he offered me a position,” she says. “I never expected it.” 

The Appleton senior learned about informational interviewing from Jenny Schroth (Career Services). Using this approach, the job seeker contacts a prospective employer and requests an interview to learn more about the company and assess its future needs.

“If one candidate has shown they’re proactive, why wouldn’t [the company] choose them?” says Schroth. “It shows that they really want it.”

“It’s so beneficial to have the roles reversed,” Thiel says. “You get to ask the questions.”

Schroth considers the informational interview a valuable part of networking – a fact-gathering process that can be especially effective in a challenged economy with fewer jobs available. Estimating that 75 percent of jobs are never advertised, she adds, “It’s a hidden way to find a job opening.”

In January, Thiel began seeking a summer marketing internship in the Fox Cities area. She had previously worked summers as a locker room attendant and cashier for the Appleton parks and recreation department and considered them her first choice. While she admits she was nervous about requesting the interview, she says the department was very receptive and, ultimately, impressed.

Thiel credited Schroth for her support. “The career services office has been absolutely amazing,” she says. “They really gave me the motivation and the confidence to experience these opportunities.”

Because of her success with informational interviews, Thiel has recommended the approach to classmates. “Many of them don’t know what it is,” she says.

Schroth hopes to raise awareness of this technique; she teaches the skills in her Internship 494 class.

“For some students, it’s a scary thing to do,” she says. “But it’s a way to get to know people, and it’s a great way to find out about [job] postings.”

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