What is Informational Interviewing?

So you’re a Northeastern student, full of vim and vigor and enthusiasm for the future. You’ve got classes and co-ops under your belt, and you feel prepared for the working world. But if you’re like most students, you haven’t discovered one of the most potent secrets of career success. What is this magical secret, you wonder? It’s a little something called “informational interviewing.”

What is Informational Interviewing?

It’s only the most useful career-building tool you’ll encounter. The basic gist is that you will reach out to professionals in the industry and set up interviews with them. Instead of the interviews you’re used to, YOU will be the one asking the questions! It’s the best way to network and gain insider industry knowledge at the same time! And your mom thought you were useless at multitasking! Oh how wrong she was.

The Power of Asking

There are two secrets why informational interviews work:

  • People love to talk about themselves.
  • People love to help college students.

At first, I was skeptical. Who would take time out from their busy schedule to shoot the breeze with a bumbling college student who barely knows what to do with her life after graduation? I reached out to professionals at ten different companies, expecting to bug them a week later in an attempt to set up two or three meetings if I was lucky. Au contraire! To my surprise, almost everyone replied immediately! And they wanted to help me! And all I had to do was ask. Many have referred to this as the Ben Franklin effect (see here).

You’ve probably heard this statistic before: 80% of job openings are unlisted, and are filled through word of mouth. With those kinds of odds, how can you afford not to network? Informational interviewing is a great way to start!

The Power of Mentorship

The summer before college, I was nervous about starting nursing school. I had never truly experienced patient care before and had lingering doubts about my abilities. Sure, I wanted to be a nurse, but who knew what would happen when I had to take care of a sick patient for the first time? What if I couldn’t handle it?

Enter Eva Gomez, a nurse and clinical educator at Boston Children’s Hospital. She ran an internship program designed to expose high school students to nursing careers, and she shaped my nursing career from the moment I met her. Smart, confident, but not afraid to discuss her own mistakes, Eva made all of us instantly comfortable. She challenged us to think of nursing as a calling, not just a career. Eva never made us feel like students; she treated us like future nurses. The infusion of confidence I gained as a direct result of her intervention fueled me through my freshman year and showed me that even if I had doubts about my abilities, there was at least one nurse who believed I could do it. After the program ended, Eva and I kept in touch, as she has done for all the graduates of the program. I have frequently asked for her advice, and she remains a huge influence in my life.

My mentorship experience began my freshman year of high school through a program called Project Reach, which is designed to help at risk elementary school students academically and socially by pairing them with a high school tutor. I worked with three children over four years, providing both homework help and emotional support. In all cases, when the students felt comfortable sharing their feelings with me, their academic achievement increased. Additionally, their outlook on school changed from pessimistic to optimistic. I will never forget the pride each child had when they showed me their first perfect score on a spelling or math test, a feat they never believed was possible until they had someone who believed in them. Even here at NEU, my involvement as a mentor in Bouve Fellows has shown me just how valuable having someone show you the way is, especially in your first year at school.

Finding a mentor at work is crucial to your success, and not just in that they may help you “get ahead.” Mentors are a wealth of information about your chosen career and the complications you may run into as time goes on. A true mentor will want to help you succeed both professionally and personally. Eva and the countless others who have been mentor figures to me over the years have shaped my development every step of the way, allowing me to pay it forward and become a mentor figure myself.

I see mentorship as the best possible way to improve relationships within a group and encourage each member to work towards his or her goals. It perpetuates a cycle of service, building the confidence of the mentees while allowing mentors to have a positive impact on the community that gave them the opportunity to succeed. It also strengthens the bonds between the younger and older individuals, building a strong cohort that helps each one professionally as well as personally. I have had several mentors within nursing, and each has given me valuable information that I will carry with me throughout my nursing career. I have witnessed the positive effect mentorship has, particularly in the nursing major here at NEU. Nurses who graduated years or even decades ago look back on programs like Bouve Fellows fondly and are more willing to help younger nurses transition. The interconnected nature of the major coupled with program like Bouve Fellows creates a strong network of empowered nurses, not only benefiting Bouve College but also the healthcare community as a whole.

Julia Thompson is a second year Nursing major in the Bouve College of Health Sciences. She works as a nursing assistant at South Shore Hospital and is currently on her first co-op at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is the secretary of the Northeastern University Student Nurses’ Association and is also involved with Bouve Fellows. Feel free to contact her at thompson.jul@husky.neu.edu with any questions. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.

ASIA: A RETROSPECTIVE

THAILAND 

Making the most

An examination of industry growth sectors, student surveys and a budding Alumni Community, led me to begin my fall trip in Thailand.  I kicked off the week co-presenting to a full house of alumni/ae, prospective students, co-ops and parents, overlooking the hustle and bustle of Bangkok city.

Asia: A Retrospective by Alane De Luca, Director Global Employer Relations (Halong Bay, Vietnam)

The room was abuzz recalling the past decade trajectory that Northeastern has enjoyed, as it has positioned itself as a global leader in experiential learning, attributable to our visionary leader, President Joseph Aoun.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations, in Bangkok, Thailand

What followed were many meetings with new employer partners, as showcased here where I met with the Taskworld management team, in what resulted in two new co-op opportunities – one in marketing and one computer science. Invited to Taskworld by the serial entrepreneur (as he commonly referred), Fred Mouawad, Chairman and CEO of Synergia One Group of Companies, was an honor to say the very least!

People along the way 

At the conclusion of a full day of meetings in Northern Thailand, I came upon some new friends at a local Buddhist temple just outside the city of Chiang Mai.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I love this photo because it is one moment frozen in time that brought together two distinctly different worlds – in one lens.  The vibrant contrasting colors uniformly focused in orange, green, and blue metaphorically reveal balance and warmth – a perfect stage on which to build new partnerships in Thailand!

INDONESIA

Full circle

When I learned was that a partnership I developed one year ago, placed third in “Northeastern’s Coolest Co-op” contest, I was needless to say ecstatic and proud.  I hope you will take a minute to watch this brief Coolest Co-op award winning video, that was developed by our first-ever co-op student at East Bali Cashews.

Twist my arm 

When I made my first trip to Bali in 2016, I visited two new companies – one a cashew producer (winning video) and the other a world-class green-energy solutions company, as seen in the photo here with requisite office setting, complete with pool and ocean view.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Bali, Indonesia

Both partnerships resulted in students co-op’ing there last year, and expanded offerings to Northeastern students for 2017 and beyond.  There is a reason Bali is called a travelers paradise, couple that with gaining critical global experience and students would be hard-pressed to turn down these once-in-a-lifetime tropical island paradise..I mean.. professional opportunities!

VIETNAM

Giving back

I had the honor of meeting with the president of the largest construction company in Ho Chi Minh City, who also happens to be the parent of one Northeastern alumnus and one current Husky (photo below).  It is through this loyalty to Northeastern and belief in experiential education that can make my job that more enjoyable.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Positioned well, Vietnam’s economy is an emerging market standout – second to India. The recent leadership transition in Vietnam has set the tone for economic growth and reform, positioning Northeastern nicely for future co-op and full-time opportunities here.

SINGAPORE

The Garden City

If you are not already convinced that Asia should be next on your travel bucket list, then let me tell you about Singapore.  I think of this beautiful garden city akin to a ‘soft landing’ for westerners.  My visits to several multinational companies included Novartis, NBC Universal and Young and Rubicam/Wunderman, to name a few, were very well received.

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations at F+G in Singapore

The concept of co-op and six month work rotations was set in motion prior to my meetings, and the goal was to firm up our agreements and move forward with a mutually-beneficial partnership.  Pictured with me here is our esteemed alumna, Jacquelyn Koh and the management team of Faithful + Gould, a world-leading integrated project and program management consultancy firm.  F+G has offered six NU co-ops for the fall 2017 cycle.

University partners

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Singapore

Our university exchange agreement with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has also proved to be a fantastic mutually rewarding collaboration.  NTU hires between five and ten research co-ops each year.  Photographed with me here is a co-op student along with NTU’s accomplished engineering faculty.  Singapore can pass for a surrogate-city to Boston, for those students keen on the local market with added benefit of a global experience. High performing sectors include aerospace, clean energy, healthcare, financial services and biotechnology.  I would encourage any student to step out of their comfort zone and co-op in Singapore!

INDIA

The boardroom

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations in Mumbai, India

My most recent trip took me to India.  Our largest student population on the homecampus is made up of Indian students.  As part of our over-arching strategy to penetrate this market for both co-op and full-time opportunities, I took the opportunity to meet with local institutions to better understand the recruiting landscape.  While there, I visited three universities, IIT-New Delhi, IIT-Bombay and IIM-Bangalore, and met with various deans, directors and professors.  Photographed with me here at the Indian Institute of Management- Bangalore are the Director of International Affairs, Dean of Programs, and Dean & Professor of IIM.  This was a profitable meeting to learning more about IIM’s entrepreneurial center and discuss possible collaborations.  A visit to IIT-Bombay resulted in a new partnership centered around their new Research Park, which houses companies on their campus and provide co-op opportunities.  I should note that our first student to co-op at IIT-Bombay started in January 2017.

Entrepreneurship at its best

Alane De Luca with esteemed Young Global Leader, Aashray Thatai in New Delhi, India

Wrapping up my visit in India, led me to one of our Young Global Leaders and newly-minted entrepreneurs (photographed below).  Having the distinct honor to meet with our alumni/ae and help them develop ways they can give back to NU, through co-op, is extremely rewarding.  As Young Global Leaders, these  passionately committed Northeastern alumni/ae strive to be a catalyst in furthering Northeastern’s global footprint.  This fortuitous meeting in New Delhi resulted in new co-op positions being developed at PostFold, a start-up that embraces the motto that every idea starts with a problem.

We are all very proud to see another Northeastern alum reach for the stars and achieve success in their career passion.  PostFold was featured in Business Insider IndiaVogue India and Economic Times India.

 

 

Alane De Luca, Director of Global Employer Relations, Northeastern University

Alane De Luca oversees the Global Employer Relations team and global lead-generation initiatives within Career Development and Cooperative Education.  She comes to Northeastern with 25+ years of experience working in the international education arena.  Alane’s passion for global experiential learning began when she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, where she worked alongside NGO’s and native Senegalese in rural parts of northern Senegal.  Upon returning to the states, she assumed a position funded by the United States Agency for International Development focusing on initiatives set forth by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and administered at Northeastern.  She also has experience directing global and experiential learning programs within academia at Merrimack College, Salem State University, Suffolk University Law School, and Saint Anselm College.  She is a dual citizen of Italy, holds an M.Ed. from Northeastern University and a B.A. from The College of the Holy Cross. www.linkedin.com/in/alanedeluca

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien