Module 02: Research and Exploration

Take Action

Jane Career sits at a table in a coffee shop speaking with another person.

Doing online research can provide useful information. However, sometimes you will need to look deeply into a particular career path to determine whether this is a direction you want, or should, pursue. At that point, you will need to connect directly with people. Talk to individuals in the field, get involved in the industry, to determine what working in the field is really like.

In this section, you will be introduced to five active methods for career research and exploration:

  • Informational Interviews
  • Job Shadowing
  • Volunteering
  • Joining professional associations and organizations
  • Work experience

To get you motivated to talk to people in professional fields of interest, watch this advice from Designing Your Life:

Design your Life: Good Networking is Like Asking for Directions

Informational Interviews 

An informational interview is a conversation with someone who has knowledge in a field of interest. During an informational interview, you can ask questions intended to help you better understand the field. This is an effective method of learning and networking simultaneously. These interviews do not involve job requests, but rather are a way to converse, network, and obtain insight of a particular industry.

  • Who should you contact? Consider beginning with professors, instructors, family, friends, neighbors, peers, colleagues, mentors, and so forth.
  • You can also locate people on LinkedIn who have jobs in an occupation of interest.
  • If you are a UWF student, consider The Big Interview to help you hone your skills.

Here is an example:

During Jane’s first semester in the Health Sciences and Administration program, she decided to learn more about the field as well as which work environments would suit her best.

She arranged an informational interview with a woman, Magda Lawd, she discovered on LinkedIn. Magda is an alumni of the same program Jane is currently in. Magda works as a non clinical manager at Malka Hospital. Jane asked Magda the following questions:

  1. Could you tell me about your own career path?
  2. What led you to this position?
  3. What do you like most about your job?
  4. Can you tell me about a typical day/month on the job?
  5. From your perspective, what are some of the challenges you see working in this field?
  6. What do you envision for the future of this field e.g. trends? What skills will become more important?
  7. Considering your knowledge of the industry, what further reading or research would you suggest I undertake? Are there any association or professional organizations you’d recommend I get involved with?
  8. Is there anyone else you would suggest I speak with?

Jane is respectful of Magda’s time and thanks her for the insights and advice she has provided. That night, Jane sends her a thank you note:

Hello Magda,

I wanted to thank you again for your time and advice today.

Speaking with you gave me a much more realistic view of what working as a nonclinical manager is like in a hospital setting. It has given me a lot to consider and some goals to pursue as I get closer to graduation.

I wish you all the best and look forwarding to staying in touch.

Kind regards,

Jane Career

You don’t always need to have a formal informational interview to learn more about an occupation. Strike up conversations with people you meet to ask what their job is like, what kind of qualifications they need and what they enjoy about their work. You’ll likely find that most people enjoy talking about themselves!

A woman named Daisy stands in a commercial kitchen looking surprised, speaking with a man in a suit.


Daisy recently attended a family friend’s wedding anniversary. She got into a conversation with Josh, a health clinician.  Daisy thought his job sounded interesting, but she also learned that he worked a lot of late evenings. Josh told her that most, but not all, health clinicians would involve some late evening work. Now Daisy can consider what impact the hours and travel required would have on her family, social life, hobbies, and other life commitments and decide if this would be a career to investigate further.

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is an activity where you visit a place of work and observe someone working in your field of interest, usually for a half- or full-day. By getting a chance to observe someone doing a job, you can get a better sense as to whether it appeals to you. You also get a chance to talk to the person doing the job and ask the same types of questions you could ask in an informational interview.


A great way to experience an area of interest is to find volunteer work in that area. This has the added advantage of direct experience you can add to your resume and connects you to people in your field. Some fields are better suited to volunteering than others. Even if your field doesn’t have many volunteer opportunities, consider looking for a conference in your field of interest.

Interest Groups and Professional Organizations

By joining groups and organizations (either in person or virtually), you have the opportunity to share information and learn from others with similar interests. Even if the other members in the group don’t work in the field, they may have information that may prove helpful. It also gives you an opportunity to improve your knowledge, learn about developments in the field, and engage in a community within your field of interest.

Work Experience 

Part-time work, field placements/internships/co-ops, and summer jobs can be extremely beneficial when determining whether to pursue a particular field of interest. These experiences may require that you apply through a formal program,  meet certain criteria which can involve a significant time commitment. However, these experiences often provide access to professionals working in an area of interest. Work Study on campus is yet another  way to get experience in a field of interest and learn more about a particular career.

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