In my previous post “Finding The Door To Get Your Foot In,” I included excerpts from an original email that landed me a face-to-face informational meeting. For the benefit of readers who do not know what an informational meeting is, it is simply a meeting (or an interview) you arrange to talk to someone (anyone) who knows about the field you are interested in.
Ideally, you want someone with a similar background, and/or several years of experience working in your field of interest. However, when you are starting off with zero connections, talking to anyone about your field of interest has its benefits.
When requesting such a meeting, what can you include in your initial email?
In the email that landed me the informational meeting with a Professor at Penn, I included several things. I introduced myself. I stated how I heard about him, what I wanted to accomplish, and the sacrifices I was willing to make. I explained why I am exploring a career change. I showed that I had already researched some areas of interest, and I made that list as broad as possible so as not to limit myself. I let him know that I was open to ideas and suggestions. I expressed appreciation and reminded him of my desire and eagerness to meet him.
The letter was brief, but it contained information that mattered most. I had my resume ready in case he asked for it. The meeting was successful. In fact, on that same day, he introduced me to some of his colleagues. In a way, I broadened my network. Talking to more persons led to more valuable information.
Among those I met was a foreign medical graduate who opted for biomedical research. Biomedical research was one of my career options of interest. Learning about how some have entered the field was important. Some individuals (with MDs) who are interested in research assume that they need a PhD to become a biomedical scientist.
I continue to get this inquiry from clients seeking career advice. Some medical grads (including foreign medical grads) choose to pursue a PhD. Despite the extra years of training (and expense), a combined MD/PhD is not a career safety net. I pursued research opportunities with just an MD degree. The individuals I met during my informational interview gave me ‘insider information’ on a vacancy.
But first, How did I prepare for the real interview? What influenced the decisions I made? What do I know now that I wish I knew then? Continue reading my future posts. Hopefully, you (or someone you know) can learn a thing or two from my experience.
Christiana W. Davis, MD
Owner, Consult To Aspire