I wrote about this advice before; However, because I think that is really a great chance to get insights into different job opportunities, I recommend it again: Undertake informational interviews!
What is that? You identify people who are already working in a position which might be interesting for you and ask them about their job: How do you like your job and why? What do you do in an ordinary week? Which skills help you to do your job? How do you get this job and what was helpful in this process? Ask things that help you to judge whether the job is something for you. Ask also things that help you to go for it in case of interest.
Do you wonder whom to ask? Look around in your social network! Ask friends about their friends’ jobs. It’s easier to contact people with which you share some connection (i.e., a common friend) or some characteristics. The later might be that you both graduated from the same university. Business networks like LinkedIn and XING may allow you to identify those people, for example, by joining alumnae groups.
Do you wonder whether such people will take some time to answer your questions? Of course, some may not. But so what? Some will! Imagine someone is eager to learn more about your job and how you do it. He or she expresses appreciation of what you have achieved. Would you not enjoy showing your experience and telling about your exciting work? Of course, you would appreciate, if he or she is not exploiting your time. So be careful with the time of others! Ask how much time he or she is willing to invest. Prioritize your questions to make sure you will ask your most important ones first. If an inspiring conversation arises, you might get more time to ask questions.
Also look for situations that are good for such interviews. Think about visiting a career or trade fair, for example, the BIOTECHNICA in Hannover (more information here). Or breaks and social events of conferences and other meetings. Or invite people to Göttingen, for example, to one of our Career Impulse Sessions.
Consider also that such interviews are a great chance to establish a long-term contact, someone to ask further questions, for example, during an application in the same organization. Consider to invite an interviewed person to your social network on LinkedIn or XING. It is easier to come back to someone also after a longer time period, when he or she is part of your online network.
More advice on how to prepare such interviews and which questions to ask you find in a Science Career article. Kristin Johnson gives moreover great advice what to consider when you really want someone investing time in your interview. Some more tips about how to ask for an informational interview, you find here.
If you have an idea whom to invite to a Career Impulse Session, pass it on to me!