I requested my first informational interview, and I survived! Here's how I made it happen:
I was on my Twitter account a few weeks ago and saw one of my followers was an editor from a fashion magazine. Score! A quick Google search told me that she was an alumni of my university, and I sent her an email to see if I could pick her brain with some questions. She responded right away, and we met on my lunch hour the next day! Here are some tips for scoring—and surviving— the informational interview:
1) Have a reason for meeting that editor: Before I requested to even meet with this editor, I knew who she was, what brand she worked for, and read some of her pieces for her magazine's website. I knew that I wanted to meet this editor because I liked her writing, I liked the brand of magazine she worked for, and I wanted to meet someone who I thought could give me an honest account of what to expect after my time at TeenMag.com. I'm a firm believer in the fact that you shouldn't request informational interviews just to add contacts to your LinkedIn profile. You're going to make a better impression if you know you're interested in the editor's work, so look for alumni from your school at brands you like to read, or ask other editors from your magazine if you can chat about what they do. It's also helpful to have a goal in mind: do you want career advice? A mentor? Insight as to what they do?
2) Ace the e-mail: As you already know, editors are incredibly busy people. Show them that you're worth meeting with by crafting the perfect email! (5-10 sentences is the perfect length). Tell the editor about a piece you liked that they wrote or your favorite section of that magazine (that should happen to be theirs). Be flexible—I offered to meet this editor before work, after work, on her lunch break, etc. And if you know the issue is going to production that week, don't email them then!
3) Show your stuff! Bring a notebook to the interview with questions about exactly what that editor does, and take notes if he or she tells you anything you know you'll want to remember later. Talk about the work you're doing and what excited you about that magazine. Be sure to thank the editor, in person, in an email (as soon as possible after you leave!) and again in handwritten form. You're going to be so great!
Until Next Time,
Ed's Web Intern