Call or write to request a meeting. Explain how you got the person’s name; if someone referred you, be sure to mention that. When contacting a Hampshire alum, identify yourself as a Hampshire student or fellow alum. Take a minute to describe your background, and then ask if you can make an appointment at this person’s convenience to learn more about her/his career field. Some examples of how you might state your meeting objective are:
“I’ve read books and searched web sites for information on journalism, and I really feel like it’s time for
me to talk with someone experienced in the field to get a real-world perspective.”
“I’m planning to move to San Francisco and want to find out everything I can about the Bay area before I start an all-out search for a job in the health care field.”
“I’ve often thought about pursuing a career in theater production, and I’d like to find out more about the
field and how people generally get their start.”
“As part of my career research, I’m talking to people in a variety of fields to find out what their jobs are actually like.”
If contacting by letter (or email): Make the letter an example of your best writing. If your writing is careless, the person might respond but not feel comfortable referring you to others. Close your letter by saying that you’ll follow up with a phone call – then be sure to do it. Don’t put your questions in a letter and expect a written reply. That would be extra work for your contact. Besides, you’re likely to gain more from a conversation.
If contacting by telephone: Begin by saying who you are and how you got the person’s name, then ask if this is a good time to talk. If it’s not, explain your reason for calling and ask when you might call back. If you sent an introductory letter/email and this is a follow-up call, ask if your letter was received and restate your reason for getting in touch.
If your contact can’t talk or meet with you, thank her anyway. If it feels comfortable, ask if she can refer you to anyone else in the field, and if you might use her name when introducing yourself. Be prepared with your questions before you call, in case your contact happens to be free and you have a spontaneous opportunity for a telephone interview.
Phone Messages: Always give your phone number when leaving a message and remember to speak slowly and clearly. Make sure your own voicemail message is professional.
Confirmation: When you call to set up an in-person appointment, do not hesitate to clarify date, time, location, appropriate attire, and parking availability.
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