If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer that has a problem saying no, raise your hand.

Thank you, and welcome. Saying no is not fun but it is indeed a complete sentence.

A few of these scenarios might seem familiar to you:

A) You’re on your last dollar with no checks in sight. You recently quit your job and could not file for unemployment. The bills are due and your gas tank is running on empty and a prayer. An opportunity randomly comes your way and you take it without checking if it was legitimate. You find out that it’s a pyramid scheme and you lost the money you borrowed to invest in it.

B) A friend approaches you with a super cool collaboration project. Unfortunately, you’re swamped with your own projects and a corporate job. Your mind hasn’t really even wrapped around her project enough so you’re not even sure if you’re that interested in what she’s doing.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve found a way to say yes to both A and B scenarios at some point in your freelance journey. What sometimes seems like a smart, financial and mutually beneficial decision turns into a living nightmare. Saying yes to things that physically and mentally exhaust you leaves little room for the things that bring you joy.

I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo recently. It is a book on utilizing Kondo’s specific method, dubbed the KonMari Method, to declutter your home. What made her method so revolutionary was that getting rid of clutter was made simple by asking yourself a simple question: does this thing spark joy? And if that thing did not, it had to go. No questions asked.

I think the same logic can be applied to the opportunities that come across our paths in life. Some projects that come your way may look amazing. The money might be speaking directly to your pockets but sometimes, your no should mean no.

You might not realize when you should probably say no to an opportunity. This might help:

When should saying no be the right thing to do?

● When you have more opportunities than you have time.
● When you’re not fully invested in the mission.
● When the money isn’t worth your time.
● When you keep making excuses as to why you can’t do it.
● When what is pursuing you does not align with your personal brand.

You’ve realized why you want to say no but the pleaser in you still doesn’t know how. Learning to say no is difficult but can be done.

How to say no

● No need to make an excuse or give an explanation. No is a complete sentence.
● Be straightforward. Try saying “No, I cannot.” or “Thank you, but I’m going to decline.”
● If you must give a reason, keep it simple, brief, and honest. “Committing to this project with my current workload would be unrealistic.”
● Practice saying NO outloud.

When saying yes is worth it

When you begin to value your time, you’ll find that saying no becomes easier. You will find that you have more time to commit to the jobs that bring you joy. You’ll be able to recognize those jobs and say yes immediately. You’ll have more time to focus on the projects and jobs that matter to you the most.

Saying no creates room to say yes to the opportunities that spark joy in your life. Saying yes to the work that sparks joy will lead you to living your most fulfilled life.

Lucy is a former Creative Circle candidate in Atlanta. She is a freelance writer and visual storyteller. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely exploring new restaurants around town, traveling, taking pictures or reading blogs dedicated to SELF – awareness, development/discovery and expression. If you are interested in working with someone like Lucy, contact your nearest Creative Circle office.

“Rejection feels SO amazing!!,” said no one ever.

Rejection sucks.

You put a ton of effort into getting noticed for your hard work but in the end, nothing happens. Whether it’s from a crush or in this case, work, no one will never say that rejection feels good.

After I quit my cushy corporate job, I really thought that things would magically align with the universe. All I needed was faith the size of a mustard seed. Kind of, but not exactly. You see, sometimes, things just don’t work out. Maybe it’s you, maybe it was the wrong opportunity. For whatever the reason, sometimes the answer is just no.

Naturally, your emotions may take over and you may start to feel unworthy and frustrated, even. Those negative and limiting thoughts will make you believe you don’t deserve what you worked hard for. I’m very familiar with that type of rejection.

Although rejection can leave us feeling hopeless, knowing that there is a positive side to it can give us hope. If we can agree that rejection sucks and is a part of life, we should also agree that there are ways to make rejection benefit us.

1. Rejection promotes motivation.

I was not the “right fit” for many companies. Hearing those words would always leave me wanting to knock all of the papers straight off the table, Scandal style. But mature me (and hopefully you), would respectfully thank them for their time and move on. Being rejected hurt me, but it didn’t stop me from trying. Rejection forces us to become better version of ourselves each and every time.

2. Rejection provides perspective.

Is it that you’re being rejected or protected? Maybe that role really wasn’t the right fit for you. Maybe you really dodged a bullet. On the one hand, you weren’t accepted, but on the other hand, the situation can possibly be a blessing in disguise. It’s all in how you choose to view it.

3. Rejection teaches patience.

While the no’s pile up, so are the bills and daily responsibilities in life. You have to keep it moving but also be still. Wait, what? Yes. Keep pushing forward with the knowledge that what you truly desire is waiting for you at the right time. Many of the greats were not overnight success stories. Walt Disney, JK Rowling, Steve Jobs, Oprah – all notable and successful celebrities who experienced many rejections. So keep working hard. Your time will come. Stop working yourself into a worry wart. Patience brings peace.

4. Rejection leads to growth.

Imagine putting your all into an application process. You were thorough and detailed. You studied the history of the company. You were energetic and succinct in the interview. Ideally, you were the perfect candidate but you still weren’t chosen. That sucks. BUT, you learned. You learned how to be a better researcher and interviewer. These are skills that you can use moving forward.

5. Rejection opens the door for another chance.

One door closing does not mean doors will never open again. As the saying goes, “One door closes, another door opens.” There is always another opportunity just waiting for you.

You can’t let the rejections from life weigh you down. You have to keep trying, keep believing and keep growing. Rejection is ultimately gives us the strength to continue on the journey of life. It reminds us that there is still more work to do. Rejection is a positive thing and once we learn to wholeheartedly embrace it, we will find that there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

Lucy is a former Creative Circle candidate in Atlanta. She is a freelance writer and visual storyteller. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely exploring new restaurants around town, traveling, taking pictures or reading blogs dedicated to SELF – awareness, development/discovery and expression. If you are interested in working with someone like Lucy, contact your nearest Creative Circle office.

So you’ve just graduated college or are pursuing a new passion. Finding a job that aligns with what you desire professionally and personally is hard. Sometimes, you’ll find the right job but in the wrong environment. You keep searching and searching and searching. Finding the perfect job can be a drag but it’s not impossible. What will make you stick out over the rest is your continual pursuit of your dream job despite the obstacles within the job search.

I’d bet a hundred dollars that fear is probably the number one reason that keeps most people from doing exactly what they want to do. What is fear anyway? To me, fear is like wearing a floor-length fur coat on a sweltering summer day. It’s being overwhelmed by the vastness of the unknown. But guess what? Nothing in life is certain. We know this and still do certain things. But when it comes to the things that we want the most, we are crippled by fear.

Your feelings of fear in your job search are normal, but they don’t have to be permanent. You can learn to be fearless just by tapping into what’s already inside of you. Here are three traits a fearless job searcher has that you can adopt in your life.

1. They are always positive.

Okay, not always, but most of the time. Words have power and when you speak negative things about yourself, that negativity is what you will attract to your life. You’ve gotta believe! Searching for a job is stressful enough. Have an optimistic outlook on things. A “no” today could become a “yes” tomorrow.

Homework: You’ve received a follow-up call or email and you’ve been told that they went with another candidate. That sucks. Thank them for the call or email. Remind yourself that your time will come. You are more than qualified and work hard. If you gave your best, you’ve succeeded. Repeat mantras to yourself to affirm your greatness. “I can do this,” or “I am already successful” are good places to start.

2. They are prepared.

You don’t show up for an exam without studying so why would you do not research a company before you interview with them? Wow your interviewers with the knowledge you acquired through your research about them.

Homework: Research the company’s history, mission/vision, and who you will be interviewing with. Show that you truly care about being on their team. That way, when it comes time to ask questions, you’ll have more confidence.

3. They ask for feedback.

Being told that you’re “not the right fit” for a role is a huge blow to the ego. For some, it’s enough to call it quits. For others, it’s a way to analyze where they went wrong and how they can improve. Fearless job searchers embrace rejection as a learning experience. Sometimes after you’ve been rejected by a potential employer, you want to forget they ever existed. You can move on or you can reach out and ask a few questions.

Homework: When I leave an interview, I know exactly what I forgot to mention. If that happens to you, go back and write down the things that you feel you failed to mention so you’re better prepared next time. After you’ve received the email or call that you were not chosen, ask why. Maybe your nerves got the best of you and you weren’t able to answer the questions asked. Analyze your weaknesses and figure out how to turn them into strengths.

Remember: EVERYONE gets afraid. Fear is not always negative. Fear can be excitement and nervousness. Even when you have fear, you must decide to push through it. Give yourself a break and then get back out there. That is the only way.

Lucy is a Creative Circle candidate in Atlanta. She is a freelance writer and visual storyteller. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely exploring new restaurants around town, traveling, taking pictures or reading blogs dedicated to SELF – awareness, development/discovery and expression. If you are interested in working with Lucy, contact Creative Circle Atlanta.

Being able to travel is one of the biggest perks of being a freelancer. But one of the downfalls is that freelancers really don’t have the luxury of giving ourselves days off, or sick days. I mean, yes, we can get these, but it isn’t paid time off. And so how do you enjoy site seeing and exploring new lands without the guilt that while you’re making new discoveries, your bank account isn’t benefitting?

I wrote previously about time management and this is one situation where managing your time well comes into play and is extremely important. And with the internet and so many technological tools at your disposal, there is no excuse for not planning ahead and allowing yourself to enjoy every moment of your much-needed travels. Read on for four tips on how to travel and freelance successfully.

1. Plan your work ahead.

If you’re like me, you have a calendar (or a couple, including a notebook agenda and different apps) that list your deadlines and when you need to have certain deliverables ready to go in your outbox. Before you travel, set aside a night, ideally a couple days before you go away, to decide which deadlines are most important to hit before you leave and which you’ll feel comfortable hitting while on the road. As a freelancer, it’s important to always be prioritizing.

I know that I do a certain kind of writing better in some places than others. For some types of writing, I like to be in loud, noisy cafes where the background noise fuels my creativity. In other situations, I need to be in a library, or a sparse room where I can shut the door and all the noise to the outside world out in order to concentrate. You know where your best work is done; decide what you want to finish before you leave on your trip.

For the pieces you plan to take on your trip, make an inventory of what you’ll need. Yes, a laptop is typically the number one item on this list. Will you need any types of software or other resources, like books? Make an actual list and check off each item as you go, as if you were packing a suitcase.

2. Scope out your surroundings.

With the internet, there’s no excuse for not being prepared for where you’re going. Sure, you don’t want to ruin the mystery that is the small family-owned café on the side street with the best house made pasta. But you can do your research and find out whether or not where you’re staying has strong wifi, what cafes and coworking spaces are nearby, and what other travelers have found before you. Oh hail the glory that is the internet. Google it up, people, there is no excuse to not be prepared here.

Remember the inventory I mentioned above? Make sure that you save any materials you may need. For example, if you need certain photos or documents, save them to your computer. Do not rely on the wifi being available. Yes, after doing your due diligence, we will hope that the strong wifi signal holds. But just in case, you’ll be glad you took my advice.

3. Be honest with your clients.

I love being in touch with my clients, and this includes when I go on vacation. I may not be sending them postcards or snapchats from my latest tourist discoveries, but I always think it’s a great idea to let them know that you’ll be away from your home base for some time. Send them an email and let them know the dates you’ll be out of town, when you’ll return, and ask if they have anything pressing they need before you leave. Of course, feel free to follow up with a phone call (which I always prefer to email), but make sure that you have the email so that there is proof in writing that you’ve prepped your clients for departure.

4. Set aside time.

Yes, there is the benefit of traveling whenever you can, but since you still have to get work done, make sure that you make a time to do the work so you can enjoy your travels. Perhaps it’s before lunch or dinner. For some, it’s on the planes, train, buses, or boats that bring them to a location. Making a designated time to get work done will help lift some of the stresses from your shoulders and allow you to spend the time otherwise designated for work, enjoying being a tourist.

What else do you do to make sure you can travel and continue freelancing successfully? Let us know in the comments.

Allison is a former Creative Circle Account Executive, with a background in creative writing, content writing/strategy, publishing, and business development. Her world revolves around words and the relationships and interactions they inspire. Allison is now the Content Specialist at Raizlabs, a design and development firm in Boston and San Francisco.

Ah, the holidays. As they fast approach, we’re left with our memories as children. The nostalgia of jack-o-lanterns, paper pilgrim hats, and the makings of many traditions. One tradition that is common is to go around the table and say what we’re all thankful for. From unlimited learning to free reign on our schedules, as freelancers, there is quite a lot to be grateful for all year around. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are things that all freelancers can be thankful for.

1. Control of Clients/Work

In an office, the work one does is often delegated by managers and the workflow that passes along through colleagues. As a freelancer, however, we are able to express interest in work that we find inspiring and that will allow us to use our current skills and work on building new ones.

2. Learning Never Ceases

In an office setting, typically we need to await a promotion or prove to management that specific courses we’re interested in are warranted. As a freelancer, we all have the opportunity to continue learning, whenever inspiration strikes. If we are interested, we can take charge of our own educations and arrange things around our schedules for the time we’ll need to pursue them.

3. Our Schedules Are Our Own

Schedules, too, are taken into our own hands as freelancers. Sure, specific clients may demand a set meeting time for a project, but gone is the idea that life revolves around a 9-5 schedule. While at first, taking charge of one’s own time can be a challenge, it’s certainly refreshing to realize that when we do our work is largely up to when we put it on the calendar.

4. Personal and Sick Time Galore

Have you ever been sitting in an office, sipping tea, shivering under a blanket, and blowing your nose over a keyboard, all for fear of using coveted sick time you didn’t expect you’d need? I have! As a freelancer, one is able to take better self-care than is typically allotted in many office environments. Beyond sick-time, we are also able to work remotely from wherever there is a Wi-Fi connection. This means that many of us can fulfill our dreams of traveling the world.

5. Sleep

Forget youth—do you know what’s really wasted on the young? Sleep. I can’t tell you how many days I’ve wondered why, having only obtained 6 or less hours of sleep the night prior, toddlers are awarded with nap time, only so I can go to another meeting about meetings. As a freelancer, we’re able to fully utilize our time how we see fit. These days, I get the amount of sleep I need, and am able to be more productive in a shorter amount of time, leaving space for a better night’s sleep, a yoga class I’d been wanting to take, or other things I made an effort to fit into my schedule.

6. Office Politics

I have many colleagues from positions I’ve held in the past that I miss seeing day-to-day. What I don’t miss however, is attempting to navigate office politics better than a first class admiral captain. Even if you’ve had the most positive of workplace experiences, there is no arguing that office politics exist and can be mentally and emotionally taxing, as well as distracting from the actual job you were hired to do. As a freelancer, we are able to define the boundaries and expectations of our clients and are also spared the typical politics that come with a 9-5 office job. (And certainly in this election year, one can do with a little escape from the stress of politics, am I right?)

7. Self-Reliance

Being independent is always something to be celebrated and as a freelancer, you are in complete control of your life, from your finances to the type of creative work you pursue. While sometimes, this can be hectic and stressful, it is by and large one of the most rewarding things about the lifestyle. Who else can say they gave themselves a raise or a bonus? And let’s not forget that when your work is well-appreciated by a client, you have entire ownership over feeling the pride in your work.

As you sit down to the table this Thanksgiving and take in all the last year has brought to your personal and professional life, be sure to take in how the life of a freelancer offers so much to both aspects of your life. Cheers to a great holiday season!

Allison is a former Creative Circle Account Executive, with a background in creative writing, content writing/strategy, publishing, and business development. Her world revolves around words and the relationships and interactions they inspire. Allison is now the Content Specialist at Raizlabs, a design and development firm in Boston and San Francisco.

One of the things that never goes unnoticed in an interview is when a candidate is prepared each step of the way. If you want to blow your future boss out of the water, make sure things go as seamlessly as possible and follow our interview prep steps:

1. Review the job description.

This should seem like a no brainer, but you’ll want to review the position you’re applying for. Be sure to take note of the key components to the description that you think your experience speaks to so you can bring it up in discussion.

2. Do your homework.

This is another seemingly no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. Before going to an interview, you should know as much as possible about the company and team you’re interviewing with. Know the size, the industry, and the recent newsworthy happenings. With Google and LinkedIn at your fingertips, there is no excuse for not knowing the latest news.

3. Get your elevator pitch down.

Whether or not you’ll have the opportunity to give someone your 30 second pitch on what it is that you do, practice it! Look at your resume and think about your career thus far. What have you done? Where are you going? You should be able to summarize this in an engaging, succinct way. Knowing how to do it is a great way to prepare yourself for an interview.

4. Bring your resume.

Whether or not you emailed your contact with your resume first, always bring a few, freshly printed clean copies. If things go well, you may be introduced to another person. It also helps to have a copy of your resume to look along at while the interviewer is looking at his/her copy. We recommend that you print your paper on standard resume paper, which is typically heavier than normal paper and can be found at most paper supply store. Bring 3-4 copies to be safe.
*It doesn’t matter if this is a 1st round or 3rd round interview. Always bring your resume!

5. Don’t forget your portfolio.

As with your resume, you’ll want to be prepared to show your work if you’ve got it. If you’re a designer or copywriter, bring your laptop or tablet to show your work. DO ask beforehand whether or not Wi-Fi will be available to demonstrate that you’ll be prepared. But do NOT rely on Wi-Fi. Download everything so there will be no technical hiccups when you’re presenting your work.

6. Follow up.

Just because you walk out the door, doesn’t mean the interview is over. More often than not, an interviewer will be paying attention to whether or not you follow up. Always make sure to send a thank you note. We recommend going the extra mile and even if you are able to send an email, take the extra step, buy a stamp, and send a good ol’ fashioned thank you note.

Allison is a former Creative Circle Account Executive, with a background in creative writing, content writing/strategy, publishing, and business development. Her world revolves around words and the relationships and interactions they inspire. Allison is now the Content Specialist at Raizlabs, a design and development firm in Boston and San Francisco.

Something that makes me anxious is when I’m going into the drug store to run an errand at the end of summertime and there is Halloween candy already on display (why yes, thank you, I will stock up on candy corn). Or when it’s fall and already they have Christmas decorations on display. As if life with digital didn’t move quickly enough, now we’re being fast-forwarded as consumers months at a time. And as consumers, we’ve grown pretty used to it. But what about with our clients?

Whether you’re in design, copy, strategy, or development, being aware of what is ahead is crucial. The world of advertising is like a game of chess in that you should always be thinking a few moves ahead if you want to be ahead of the competition. Entrepreneur magazine published an article this past August stating the obvious—that companies that don’t maximize the holiday shopping season are missing out on opportunities that could bring in the big bucks. Ad impressions alone during this season get a 50% boost, so you can imagine the impact that would have on consumers. But what does this mean to you as a creative?

Start Talking

Don’t be afraid to bring up the holidays. Not in a I-don’t-know-what-to-get-my-boss way, but in a way that gets people engaged in brainstorming how your team will be approaching the holiday season. What did the company do last year and the year before? Look at numbers and see what was working and what wasn’t. Begin to ask yourself why that is and come up with some ideas that could benefit this year based on the brand’s recent activity and engagement. How can you help? Maybe this means changing copy tone, finally bringing back an older typeface, or using a new heat mapping software in A/B testing. Either way—it’s never too early to start the conversation.

Know What’s New

This is something you should always be doing. Set up Google Alerts for brands you like or that are similar to ones you work with to stay on top of what types of best practices and technologies are out there. For example, web optimization has always been a popular tool when it comes to holiday campaigns, but how is responsive mobile design, social media, and technology like geolocation coming into play? It’s always helpful to know.

Know Thy Enemy

Okay, maybe “enemy” is a bit harsh. But know who the competition is. If you don’t know what your competitors did last holiday season, you should be finding out and looking into what their efforts did for your shared customer base. Will you be able to set your client’s work apart in helping them be unique? Always be on the lookout to see what else is being done.

Remember it’s not JUST the Holidays

Yes, the holidays is an important time to be on top of your game, and you should be doing your homework months before December 1st hits the calendar, but this type of awareness is a good practice to maintain year-round. It’s important to remain the best asset possible for your client or team and this means always keeping your eye out for news trending in your industry, what technologies are having an impact, and how you can use your craft to drive forth business. Hopefully this will lead to winning pitches and/or high ROIs but it will definitely lead to long-lasting relationships with clients who understand you have a solid knowledge of your craft and industry and who value your input.

Allison is a former Creative Circle Account Executive, with a background in creative writing, content writing/strategy, publishing, and business development. Her world revolves around words and the relationships and interactions they inspire. Allison is now the Content Specialist at Raizlabs, a design and development firm in Boston and San Francisco.

Ever since I visited an exhibit of legendary assemblage artist Robert Rauschenberg at the MOCA when I was 12, the study of visual art has been a core passion of mine. In my three college years, I’ve taken three art history courses that have profoundly shaped my worldview in ways I’d never anticipated, deeply influencing many facets of my daily life. While I recently dropped my minor in the subject for practical purposes, I firmly believe in its merits for all undergrads, even those not directly involved in the visual arts. Here are four benefits that an introductory art history class provides.

1. Understand good design.

Next to hands-on work, an art history course is often the best method for acquainting yourself with the fundamentals of design. You’ll learn to critically analyze classics that have stood the test of time, engaging with the compositional techniques of perspective, movement, contrast, and rhythm that structure great works. Along the way, you should also gain a better comprehension of effective patterns, color theory, and other visual tools that lend works aesthetically pleasing qualities. In tandem with a historical backdrop, this practice will provide you with useful tools to discern between powerful and lackluster design for resumes, websites, and more.

2. Recognize the cutting edge.

Beyond helping to develop a sharpened eye for effective design, having even a cursory understanding of 20th century art history will give you a well-informed knowledge of the visually stale and unique. Additionally, for the purposes of personal branding and maintaining a slick web presence, maintaining an awareness of the ways that art forms and modes of visual expression have evolved will help avoid cliche immensely. In turn, you may be able to keep a more finely-tuned ear to the ground for design trends. For instance, if you keep in mind the unique postwar social climate reflected in pop art’s appropriation of corporate aesthetics, you may have a better sense of direction for recent art and graphic design that employs pastiche and irony.

3. Have a better frame of reference for media and history in general.

Before the advent of television, film, and even widespread print media, sculptures and paintings were central modes of communication that transmitted public attitudes and spoke volumes about political climates. To look at many Baroque portraits, for example, is to understand power relations and persistent ideologies around 17th century Europe with much more transparency than many text accounts are able to give. I think the same is true even after the spread of film, television, and photography. In the 20th century, the stark individualism of American abstract expressionism and brutal simplicity of minimalist sculpture spoke to public disillusionment with the status quo through highly personal narratives that mainstream media simply can’t document. For anyone even remotely interested in history, politics, or communications, the study of art in an academic setting is invaluable.

4. Learn to appreciate the lives of creators.

In the critical study of artists themselves, you’ll often learn fascinating tidbits about their obsessions, quirks, and creative process. Jackson Pollock never used an easel, and let cigarette ash and dirt fall freely onto his signature drip paintings. Pablo Picasso was a renowned perfectionist, and was rarely satisfied with a first draft. Barnett Newman created many of his color field paintings in isolation, teaching and working from a small lakeside cabin in the Saskatchewan wilderness. Not only will you attain a better grasp on the driving forces behind works and artistic movements, you’ll often develop better insight into the creative lifestyle itself. Young creatives are often portrayed in the world of advertising as spontaneous and energetic, but relatively tame and put-together. A quick survey of some of the most celebrated artists’ lifestyles will quickly dispense of this notion. Artists are often messy, unpredictable, and hugely flawed, not the easily categorizable monolith they are often represented as. This knowledge can be a breath of fresh air for creatives who feel out of place in their scene or the industry in general.

Whether you plan to create yourself, appreciate the visual arts, or are simply interested in understanding the fundamentals of artistic composition and design for practical purposes, an art history course can impart lessons on the world around you that other fields of general study are unequipped to discuss.

Evan is a 20-year-old college student, born and raised in Los Angeles, who has been shaped in innumerable ways by its creative community. He is majoring in digital media and minoring in art history with a dream of working in the music industry since his early experiences at punk shows during his teenage years.

Years ago, I was interning at a public relations firm. As you know, with interning, your experience is what you make of it. Not getting an income motivated me to take advantage of the learning experience I needed to succeed.

At one particular event, I met an executive for a popular business in the city. Knowing that it was highly unlikely that I would have the opportunity to connect with her again, I grabbed her card and promised to follow up later. Later that evening, I researched her online. I learned as much as I needed to about her before deciding to reach out to her. Once I did, I felt confident in what I wanted to say. My interaction with her via email went a little (actually a lot – word for word) like this:

Good morning ______,
I don’t know if you remember me but I was assisting the photographer with names at the ________ event a few weeks ago. I asked you for your card and I wanted touch base with you.

I am currently interning at ________. Although it ends soon, I feel comfortable enough to start my career search now. I am a huge fan and frequent visitor of the ________ and being in an art environment everyday is something I look forward to.

I’m so inspired by your previous accomplishments at ________. Branding, promotion and social media are things that I am good at as well. I would love the opportunity to hear how you made the transition so successfully at your current role.

I look forward to hearing from you.



From there, she thanked me for my kind email and suggested we do lunch the following week.

I had no idea a simple email would lead to her actually responding and suggesting we meet for lunch. I really wanted to work for her company but I never mentioned that at all. The point of that meeting was to learn as much as I could from her and see how the relationship would naturally evolve. A month later, I would apply to a position at her company. Six months after that, I would get two interviews: one with her and another with her supervisor.

An informal meeting such as this could be called an informational interview, and will give you first-hand knowledge on your chosen industry, from an industry leader. It’s the chance to learn more about an individual working in an industry you want to learn more about without the same pressure as a formal interview.

What I learned from that experience is this: although the benefits of an informational interview are endless, there are three main reasons why you should request one if possible.

1. You expand your professional network.

I’m grateful to have had that internship that opened my network to a completely new industry. My initial email to the executive was based purely on intrigue. I recognized her at an event, I emailed her, and that email led to lunch.

2. You build confidence in your interviewing skills.

An informal meeting is very casual in nature. It is a time to get to know your contact and practice. By the time I actually interviewed with her, I wasn’t nervous at all. It was as fluid as talking with an old friend.

3. You get one step closer to potentially working with the company.

During that time, she gave me tips on what to say in the formal interview. Thankfully, I did get to meet with her manager and used all of her feedback in that interview.

An informational interview is an invaluable aspect of career building. As a job seeker or curious freelancer, reaching out to gain insight about a company in the form of an informational interview is a strategy with rewards in your favor.

Lucy is a Creative Circle candidate in Atlanta. She is a freelance writer and visual storyteller. When she’s not writing, she’s most likely exploring new restaurants around town, traveling, taking pictures or reading blogs dedicated to SELF – awareness, development/discovery and expression. If you are interested in working with Lucy, contact Creative Circle Atlanta.