Information Interviews and Shadowing
The best way to explore a potential career choice is by speaking with and/or following someone who works in that career.
- Do an information interview. Learn first-hand about your chosen profession by asking questions about tasks, business environment, and educational background.
- Shadow a professional. Follow someone in your career choice as they go through a typical day or week on the job. Ask questions and observe the work.
Finding a Profession(al)
Finding someone to interview or shadow is not difficult. Ask your parents and your friends’ parents if they know someone you can interview. Ask your professors for recommendations of professionals in the field. Go to your career center: Many maintain lists of alumni and employers who are willing to help in your career exploration.
Next, call or write a letter requesting an information interview or job shadowing. People who like their jobs tend to enjoy talking about them. You compliment the professional by expressing an interest in the career. In your phone call or letter, explain how you found the person you want to interview and request time for an appointment. Emphasize that you want to find out more about the career—you’re not looking for a job. If you're lucky, the professional you contact may have other colleagues you can interview also.
Here is an example email that you would send to a professional contact or through LinkedIn requesting an informational interview.
Dear Ms. Smith,
We have not met before, but I was referred to you by Professor Cathy Wright from Western Illinois University. She knows you through your mutual experience in Phi Theta Kappa. I am also a member of this organization, and a current Sophomore at WIU! This semester, I am solidifying my plans for after graduation by gaining industry knowledge within the field of communication. Would you be available to meet for coffee in Peoria next Friday to discuss your career in public relations? Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your response.
Takes notes during your time with the professional. Here are some questions you might ask:
- What is your typical workday like?
- What do you like most (and least) about your job?
- What skills/abilities are most important to succeed in this job?
- What is your educational background?
- How did you get started in this field?
- What courses were most helpful to you and which would you recommend?
- What is the best way to get started in this field?
- Do you have any additional advice to help me prepare?
Following Up Your Interview
Review your notes. What was your impression? Did you leave the interview feeling as if you can envision a future in this occupation or were you discouraged—you don’t feel you learned enough about the occupation or the job description doesn’t sound appealing any longer?
Take your thoughts and concerns to the career center staff and get feedback on the next step to take in your career exploration. You may want to do additional information interviews in this career path or you may want to reexamine your goals and find a different path for your interests.
No matter what you decide, send a thank-you note to anyone you interview or shadow. Whether you decide to forge ahead on that career path or find another one, this professional may be a good person to network with when you begin your job search.
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, copyright holder. www.naceweb.org .
Job Shadowing Opportunities
- Farm Credit
- Mr. Scott Clauson
- 2901 E. Jackson St
- (309) 833-2302
- Agriculture Finance/Business
- Accurate Hearing
- 501 West Jackson Suite A
- Andy Bennington
- Communication Sciences/Disorders
- Advanced Rehab & Sports Medicine
- Kristin Terry, Regional Marketing Coordinator
- Macomb, IL & Canton, IL
- (309) 836-2500 & (309) 649-1572
- Physical therapy, athletic trainer, marketing
- All Pets Veterinary Clinic
- Dr. Karen Blakeley, DVM, MPH
- 722 W Jackson St
- Affordable Plumbing & Construction
- 239 East pierce #1
- Mike Parker
- Robert Johnson or Jim Starnes
- Facilities, IT, Transportation, Purchasing
- Century 21
- Lorraine Epperson
- 119 North Randolph
- Real Estate Sales
- Coca-Cola of Macomb
- Mr. John Adolphson
- 219 S Johnson St.
- Supply Chain/Logistics
- The Computer Source
- Jeff Husband
- 717 W.Jackson St - Ste B
- Edward Jones
- John White, Financial Advisor
- 1750 W. Jackson
- Finance majors
- First Presbyterian Church or Genesis Garden
- William Wetzel
- 400 E. Carroll St
- 309-255-3448 or 309-833-3333
- Seeking any person "with a heart full grace and soul generated by love" or anyone that likes help people!
- Macomb Area Convention Visitors Bureau
- Nikki Gray, Executive Director
- 201 S. Lafayette
- RPTA, event planning, hospitality, marketing, geography, non-profit business
- Magnolia’s Restaurant & Catering
- Ms. Lisa Ward
- 130 N Lafayette
- Restaurant/Catering Management
- McDonough County Health Department
- Kerri Allen, Community Health Director
- 505 E. Jackson St.
- 309-837-9951 ext 205
- Nursing, Public Health, Environmental Health, Administrative, Emergency Preparedness
- McDonough County United Way
- Jill Beck, Director
- 440 N Lafayette St
- RPTA, Communication, Non-Profit
- McDonough District Hospital
- Ms. Tobie Richey, Recruiter
- 525 East Grant Street
- Various opportunities
- Nelson’s Clothing
- John Nelson
- 104 North Side Square
- Retail Merchandising/Sales (prefer 2-3 people at a time)
- Pella Corporation- Macomb
- Susan Spier, HR Manager
- Management Supply Management, HR, Engineering, or IT
- PUMO INSURANCE
- James Pumo
- 19 East Side Square
- Mr. Scott Brown, President
- Computer Sales & Service
- Spoon River College
- Erin Orwig
- 2500 East Jackson
- Community Outreach/Continuing Education/Business
- Wesley Village
- Keegan Nesbit, Dietary Director
- 1307 Meadow Lark Lane
- Western Illinois Home Health Care
- Joel Newman, Director of Business Development
- 2 Industrial Park Road Monmouth, IL
- 309-734-9376 ext. 2112
- Sales, finance, management, social work, nursing
- Western Illinois Museum
- Sue Scott, Director
- 201 S. Lafayette Street
- WIU Alumni Association
- Amanda Shoemaker, Associate Director
- Communication, RPTA, Journalism, Event Planning, Public Relations, Student Affairs
- WIU Athletics Marketing
- Kelsey Homewood, Director of Athletics Marketing
- 103 Western Hall
- (309) 298-1190
- Tickets and corporate sales, radio, television, advertising, promotions, and marketing
Career Development Center
Memorial Hall 125
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: (309) 298-1838