But What Do [insert job title] Actually Do?!

By Sara Sullivan

You might be sitting there with no idea what job you want to do, or you might be trying to choose between 2 different career paths.  Wherever you are up to, asking questions like those below will definitely help you to find out what a job is really like, or what you might expect from working in a particular industry or company:

  • So what’s it like being a graphic designer?
  • What do accountants actually do on a daily basis?
  • If you were recruiting for someone to join your team in marketing, what would you look for in that person in terms of skills or experience?
  • How did you get to where you are now, as a pharmacist in a hospital? What’s your career journey been like to this point?
  • Have you got any advice for someone thinking about a career in nursing?
  • Are there any professional associations you can recommend for someone interested in software engineering?

Read more: 4 Essentials Every New Intern and Graduate Needs to Know

Information interviews

This technique, of asking professionals questions about their jobs and career experiences, is known as an Information Interview.  Unlike standard job interviews, information interviews are not about hiring, and are therefore nothing to be nervous about.

As their title suggests, the primary purpose of information interviews is to gain – yes, you guessed it – information; information which will help you with your decision-making and career direction planning.  Information interviews should not be used as opportunities to ask for a job! However, having said that, they are great ways in which to build up your professional network.  A good question at the end of an information interview could therefore be ‘Would you be happy for me to keep in touch with you and, if so, would phone or email contact be better for you?’

Building your professional network

So where can you find professionals to talk to?

A good place to start is with people you already know.  Think about your family, your friends, friends of your family, parents or siblings of your friends or people you know through hobbies.  Do any of them work in the profession or industry you’re interested in, or in a company you’d like to find out more about?

If not, utilise your LinkedIn account (you have got one haven’t you?!)  by trying the UTS Alumni feature to check out if any former UTS students are now working in your areas of interest.

Search under ‘companies’ and look at the people who work for the company you’re interested in.  You may already have some first or second-degree connections who you can reach out to.

Read more: Surviving Work as an Introvert

Next steps

  • Make contact with your shortlist of professionals, explaining that you would value the opportunity of speaking with them to help you gain information and understanding on their role, industry or the company they work for.
  • Outline where you are up to in terms of your studies and what your area(s) of interest are.
  • Ask them if they might have 15-30 minutes to meet with you, or else speak with you over the phone.
  • Plan your questions in advance of the meetings and do your research.
  • Plan your ‘elevator pitch’ so you’re prepared for when they ask you to give you a summary of where you are up to with your studies or job search.
  • Always dress and act professionally – you never know where that first meeting might lead next!
  • Finally, take advantage of any new referrals you are given and always send follow-up thank-you notes. Remember that networking is an ongoing activity so keep in regular contact with your new network of professionals and keep them up-to-date with your career progress too!

Now that you know about information interviews and the huge benefits they can offer, start today and make a list of people you are going to contact!


Sara Sullivan is a Human Resources and Career Development Specialist with over 17 years’ experience in the UK and Australia. Currently working for UTS:Careers as an Employability Consultant, Sara loves working with, and enabling individuals to achieve their unique career goals.

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.


Author: Guest Contributor

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