What You Can Gain From Attending An Information Session

Written by Monica Richard, OUR Staff. Originally published 11.6.2012. Updated 11.1.2013.

If you are thinking about applying for a job, continuing your studies, or considering a fellowship opportunity, at some point you may encounter the “Information Session” event. This blog post isn’t going to address whether or not you should attend the event, but what you can expect to gain if you do.Decision Image - blog 11.6.2012

Believe it or not, organizations and programs want you to be successful when applying for the opportunities they offer. If a program gets the right student for the right opportunity then everybody wins.  The best organizations put some effort in helping you successfully navigate their application process. The information session is one such tool.  The format for these sessions can range from an organization or program overview where decision makers are present to a panel of people who have completed the opportunity you covet, in some cases tips are provided to help you make your interview or application stronger.

Information sessions serve a purpose and provide benefits, and there are three things that you should know:

  1. They are for you. Yes. Program information will be shared, but it is done so to provide you with information to make your interview or application stronger.  Otherwise, why go to the trouble of providing so much information on a website and hosting an information session? If particular points are highlighted during the session, pay attention. The organization is telling you what others have either done well or poorly.  For instance, if a recurring theme is “Please read carefully,” be sure that you do what? Correct. Read carefully.
  2. They will save you time. Let’s face it. Sometimes reviewing information on a website, though informative, can be overwhelming, especially if you are not sure where to start. During an information session, you will be directed to the places you need to go to learn about the program, and how to apply.  Occasionally attendees are given a checklist or handout to streamline the application process.
  3. You can ask specific questions. An organization will do its best to try to cover the answers to past questions it has received through its frequently asked questions (FAQs) page. However, both the questions and the responses are going to be written for a general audience. It’s hard to capture every scenario. And if your situation is the exception to the exception, then perhaps speaking with someone after the information session is the best way to address your concern. More than likely there will be someone present that can address your issue without having to get back to you.

If you decide to attend an upcoming information session, be prepared to listen for dos and don’ts, take advantage of any extras (e.g. advice, handouts, direct links, etc.) and come prepared with questions.

Join us at an upcoming Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program (SURF) Information Session:

  • November 12, 2013, 5:00-6:30 pm, FPG Student Union Room 3408
  • January 28, 2014, 5:00-6:30 pm, FPG Student Union Room 3408

To learn more about the Office for Undergraduate Research and its programs, visit our.unc.edu.