You’ve done some research about the marketing field. You know what type of position you want, or maybe even if you don’t, you need to make that next step towards getting a job that’s good for your career. You’ve tapped out your network, (or maybe you haven’t: did you read our post on networking?) So now what? Why not try to get some informational interviews?What is an informational interview?It is usually the case that you can only find out so much information online or in books. The best source of information is other people actually working in marketing.This is one of the reasons why you need a mentor, and it’s also a reason to seek out an informational interview.An informational interview is a casual or informal conversation with someone working in marketing during which you can ask for information and advice. It is not an interview, and the purpose if it is not to find job openings.As you might with any kind of networking task, you may feel shy to talk to strangers, but you’d be surprised as to how eager most professionals are to reflect on their experience and to give advice to someone with an interest in their field.What are the benefits of informational interviewing?The Career Center at Berkeley lists these:Get firsthand, relevant information about the realities of working within a particular field, industry or position. This kind of information is not always available online or in print.Find out about career paths you did not know existed.Get tips about how to prepare for and enter a given career.Learn what it’s like to work at a specific organization.Gain knowledge that can help you in writing your resume, interviewing, and more.Initiate a professional relationship and expand your network of contacts in a specific career field; meet people who may forward job leads to you in the future.Additionally, because of the hidden job market (link to hidden job market), Andy Teach author of From Graduation to Corporation,  notes that  “those on the inside may be knowledgeable about current or future job openings in their company or at another company” giving you an inside scoop to jobs that are not posted yet.How do you find someone to conduct an informational interview with?These are the ways you can find someone to interview:Ask people in your network (link to networking blog) if they know anyone who works in marketing.Ask authors of marketing blogs or books you’ve read if they’ll agree to an informational interview.Cold call (link to cold calling blog) companies you’ve researched (link to strategic job search blog) to ask if you can speak to someone who works in marketing.Look for alumni through your university or college alumni network, or through the network you’ve developed at GenMContact your local chapter of the American Marketing Association, and see if they can put you in touch with someone.What do you say at the informational interview?The first thing you can do is introduce yourself with  a custom version of your elevator pitch (link to elevator pitch entry). See if you can lead it into your first question by describing why you want to be in marketing. Then you can ask the individual how he or she got into the marketing profession.If this doesn’t generate conversation, then have a series of questions prepared.Here are some of the best questions that Service Canada suggests:What special advice would you give a person entering this field?Which professional journals and organizations would help me learn more about this field?What do you think of the experience I've had so far in terms of entering this field?From your perspective, what are the problems you see working in this field?If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why?What personal qualities or abilities are important to being successful in this job?What kind of education/training is needed for this position?What part of this job do you find most satisfying? Most challenging?How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?It is very important not to ask questions that are too personal, such as how much money does your job pay. Instead, ask about the salary ranges for the marketing industry.Before you close the interview, it is absolutely essential to ask whether there is anyone else you can talk to. What do you do after the interview?Write down what you learned and what else you want to know. This will help prepare you for your next interview, whether it is informational, or the real thing.However, the most important thing you do before using all this newfound information, it to follow up.  You just might be able to add the person you spoke to to your professional network.Jennifer Winter writes “Always send a thank-you note. Always. Your interviewee should never wonder how much you appreciated the time she took to share her hard-earned knowledge with you. Remember, you never know what doors she could open for you one day… For extra points, go the extra mile and find an article related to a topic you discussed, and include a link with your thank-you, noting how your conversation with her inspired you to read the article.”Keep in contact with this person and let him or her know how you are doing--you have a new person for your network--or even better--a mentor.Gain experience with a mentor at GenM