An informational interview is a great way to network and to gain an understanding of people in careers that are different or more influential than your present position. Currently as a student, informational interviews are extremely important because I can build relationships that could help me in the very near job hunt. Whether it is through gaining a personal reference, finding job opportunities, or networking to gain advice in the future; informational interviews have a multitude of benefits for undergrads and professionals alike.
Name: Stephen Shaner
Title/Position: Health Plan Systems Manager
Company: Health Partners
Industry: Health Care / IT
Questions about the Contact
Career, Company, Industry; Skills, Success
How long have you been in your current position? How many people do you manage? How do you manage poor performance?
– 9 years
-Currently 22 employees, space for 12 more employees and also has 2 interns with another starting in May.
-Perform Improvement Plan for employees that may be lacking similar success to others. The plan will consist of what the employee may be lacking, a game plan for future improvement and expectation thereafter. Finally there will be an agreed upon time for a meeting in the future to sit down and discuss how things have been going since the initial meeting. A lot of these documents are pre-drafted templates from the HR dept. and are filled in with useful information on a case-by-case basis.
Questions about Communications Practices and Writing
Could you please describe the typical kinds of writing you do and tell me a bit about each?
– Emails, one-on-one, “Ring-A-Bell” — which is literally he will ring a bell that is outside of his office and that signals that there will be a group meeting taking place and everyone should be attending. He also uses a lot of inter-office communicators(Microsoft Lync for example). Also does a lot of video-conferencing because his boss and the other group of Health Plan Systems workers are in the Twin Cities area.
His preferred way of communication is face to face and over the phone so that his voice and tone can be expressed so nothing can be misconstrued.
Questions seeking Advice for you
– Tips to networking?
I worked with Stephen through the American Heart Association so he understands how social and willing to discuss new topics I am, he said don’t change a thing about my personality but to make sure I continue to find new opportunities to network. He has over 1300 contacts to LinkedIn and he is always looking for volunteer opportunities.
-Resume/Cover Letter suggestions?
Blow your employer away. They will look at hundreds of applications/resumes/cover letters; make sure something sticks out.
-Where should I look for networking events?
Chamber of Commerce, Free to members and you can learn good habits
Through your school, tons of job fairs and events that are held to meet new people, just be willing to go there
LinkedIn — find groups you want to join and pay attention to any lectures or events that are being held
When I move back to the Twin Cities I should start looking at the Twin Cities commerce website instead of Duluth’s because that’ll become relevant.
-Successful interview suggestions?
Show your passion, you really want to stand out and show that you have something to offer any organization, big or small. Let your positive personality shine through while also showing that you can be taught new things and that you work well with others. Hiring attitudes is more important than some of the skills, people want to bring other positive employees into their work environment
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Stephen is a really influential person, he’s also a motivational speaker and a part of ToastMaster’s. I learned a lot in regards to the importance of selling yourself and fitting an organizations ideology for a a job role. The biggest take aways were that I need to keep my self-confidence high while finding a way to show that I am always willing to learn and evolve as an intellectual. In the future I will make sure to have practice and feel completely prepared as I enter an interview. Showing a relaxed state of mind will help show the confidence I have in the skills I have worked hard to acquire and fine-tune.
The only thing that surprised me was all of the extra-curricular activities that Stephen Shaner is a part of. I knew he was a part of many organization, but he is in such a high role in all of them which amazes me. He really spreads himself thing by continually involving himself with beneficial networking/learning opportunities which I really envy. I want to have a career similar to Stephens in my extended future.