So you’ve got yourself a Zoom appointment with a scientist who may be able to help your career. If you are able to, through your college or university (i.e. you can initiate a Zoom call of an hour in length), offer to create the Zoom link yourself. Do be on time (this is critical) and be certain to have a professional appearance for the camera.
As you begin the call, use the words “informational interview” to describe your goal for the conversation. This term conotes that there are no expectations of an offer (job other educational) from the scientist. You will be probably asked to introduce yourself: what this means is to state your name and then to give a short (no longer than 2-3 minute) backgrounder on your undergraduate education to date, your major, what science experiences (including courses and labs) might be relevant. You statement stops with a sentence or two on how you discovered the work of this person (your target) and what papers of hers/his you have read. At this point you get ready to listen.
What is required is active listening. This means engaging visually with the person via the camera. Nodding when appropriate and taking notes so that you can ask intelligent questions. This is really key. The scientist on the other end of the Zoom needs to be able to “feel” your attention. More on this in the next blog post.