An informational interview is an opportunity to gather in-depth information about career fields and positions that interest you. Informational interviews will not only enrich your understanding of various career fields, but will also broaden your network of professional contacts. You can find more tips on informational interviewing, especially the why and the how, in the Making Contacts section of the website.
Below is a guide for how to structure an email to request an information interview.
Subject: Consider using "Penn" within your subject line to catch the recepient's attention
Dear Mr. or Ms. ____________:
In the first paragraph explain how you learned about the person to whom you're writing and what you want from him or her. Do not ask for "an informational interview," which sounds stuffy and formal. Instead, use a phrase such as "a brief meeting with you to discuss _______________" or "a chance to meet with you briefly to learn from you about ______________."
In the second paragraph explain something of your background and why you have developed the interests which you wish to discuss with this person. This paragraph can be brief and low key. You're asking to meet with someone for an informal conversation; this is not the place to try to overwhelm the person with your qualifications.
In the final paragraph, give a few specific examples of the kinds of questions you have. Make it clear that you will make good use of this person's time. Offer to call within the next few days to try to arrange an appointment.
Add a professional signature beneath your name containing basic contact information and possibly your anticipated graduation year and area of study