I am going to briefly describe my planning before the an informational interview.
1. The Hunt
First, I identified law firm in my area, typically using google.com: “Biotechnology law firms”, “patent law biotechnology” etc. etc. Then I read over the staff, starting with partners and tried to determine if that partner had a) Finished their PhD before getting a job with the company (bonus points if that person entered law school during that time, indicating evening school), b) done biology related PhD and then if the partner had been a postdoc.
After partners, I would try to identify groups within the company such as Biotechnology Patent group and go through the entire list of associates and find someone that had a similar path to what I want to embark upon.
2. The Contact
To date, I have sent emails that are specifically directed at the person, no general emails! I read general emails like I read spam mail, I don’t! I do not expect to read general emails either.
I start by introducing myself first and state what I am doing and what I want to do.
Dear Mr. Partner,
My name is #insertname and I am a postdoctoral student in #Department at #University. I am looking into ways of using my scientific experience to enter patent law.
Then I describe why I choose this person for advice. The research you have done above (1. The Hunt) comes in handy for this sentence.
I noticed on #FirmsName website that we share a similar background in science and you have successfully made the transfer from the bench to the bar. Thus, I look to you for career advice.
Then I go into a bit more detail what my plans are. I want to try to show the person that I am serious and have put a lot of thought into this career path. You also want to have your path listed because if this person thinks that she would not be able to help you, you can save yourself and this person a lot of time. If that happens, you normally get a negative-positive reply such as: “I am not sure if I can help you but I know a person that might…”
My proposed path is to become a patent agent and ultimately a patent attorney, #InDetail
As for the final sentence, I try to make it a strong salespoint by reassuring this person that I mean business and that this person will not waste his/hers time by meeting me. In addition, I suggest to meet at anytime available and under different scenarios. Finally, do not forget to put the words INFORMATIONAL MEETING, because otherwise the person will be turned off by talking to someone that is going to beg for a job. Remember, this is not a meeting to get a job, this is a meeting to get insight into the position and ways for you to get a job. Again, NOT to get a job.
Thats it really, I am limiting my contacts at the moment due to work but I have had a 100% success rate using this. It is mostly about doing the background research about the people and the company. The last minute preparation for an informational interview is going to be my next post, Informational Interview Part 2.
Thanks for reading and please leave your suggestions in the comments.