Guidelines for CurioCity Volunteers Preparing Interview-Based Career and Research Profiles

About CurioCity, career profiles and research profiles

CurioCity is an online program developed by Let’s Talk Science to provide teens and their educators with a range of free resources related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). These resources include both career profiles and research profiles.

Career profiles highlight the wide range of careers that require or benefit from a background in STEM, with personal insights from people who love what they do for a living.

Research profiles give students a glimpse into the activities of a researchers who work in labs or in the field. These profiles also help teens understand the importance of scientific research and recognize opportunities they may want to pursue in their own careers.

A new volunteering opportunity

Traditionally, career and research profiles have been submitted using online forms:

However, many people would prefer to be interviewed and have the interviewer prepare their written profile. That’s where you come in! With the help of these guidelines and an interview template, you should be able to successfully conduct an interview and prepare a profile.

In the same way that a profile should allow the respondent’s personality to shine through, feel free to inject your own personal style into the process.

Since this is a new volunteering opportunity, we would be interested in any feedback you have on your experience, including suggested changes or additions to this guide. Please send your comments and questions to us at volunteers@explorecuriocity.org

Finding a professional or researcher to interview

In some cases, a Let’s Talk Science staff member or Outreach coordinator may ask you to interview a specific person.

However, we also hope that volunteers can help us find new and interesting people to profile on CurioCity. Keep in mind that we want to showcase the broadest possible range of people whose work relates to STEM. For career profiles, that means everyone from the custodian to the CEO. For research profiles, it means everything from consumer surveys to electron microscopes.

If you know someone who uses STEM knowledge—however basic—on the job, we want to hear from them! Ditto for anyone who uses STEM techniques—however rudimentary—to discover new information. You can probably think of a number of people among your family, friends and acquaintances!

Of course, if it turns out the person would prefer not to do an interview, you can point them toward the online questionnaires for career profiles and research profiles. Otherwise, here are the steps to follow when conducting an interview and preparing a profile.

Preparing for the interview

  • When you set up a date and time for the interview, tell the respondent that it should only take about 20-30 minutes of their time. Things might go longer if they are a chatty person, but busy people will appreciate knowing the interview will be brief.
  • The day before the interview, share the questions in the career or research profile template (see below) with the respondent. That way, they can start reflecting on their answers. However, you should explain that they do not need to prepare their answers in advance. You can also point them to the career profile page or research profile page on CurioCity so they can see examples of already published profiles.

Conducting the interview

  • Download the appropriate interview template:
  • Break the ice: Before you start, take a minute or two to connect with the person. Introduce yourself and thank them for taking time from their busy schedule to help out with this important project.
  • Explain the process: You will take notes during the interview and then prepare a draft profile for them to review. They have final approval of what we publish and we won’t publish anything they are not comfortable with.
  • Start with the demographic questions: If necessary, ask for clarification if important details like their job title or the name of an institution aren’t clear.
  • Advance through the questionnaire: Focus on the questions in bold. Don’t ask follow-up questions unless you don’t get a comprehensive answer to the main question. When follow-up questions are relevant and necessary, you can use the ones provided in the questionnaire or come up with your own.
    • As they describe their work, make sure they address any relevant STEM connections, as well as how they make decisions and solve problems. If it is not in their initial response, ask for these elements specifically.
    • Take the time to make sure you get the details correct.
    • If you are conducting the interview in person, you can also record a short video of them expressing a particularly important idea or demonstrating something they do at work or in the lab.
  • Get the teen “hook” (if possible): Ask the respondent to elaborate on anything you think is particularly important or would make a big impression on teens. Did they overcome a big challenge? Did a mentor help them pursue their interests? Is their work related to something a lot of teens are interested in (video games, social media, sports…)? Did they have a clear idea of what they wanted to do when they were teens?
  • Wrap up the interview: When the interview is finished, thank the respondent again and remind them of these three points:
    • Photos: We need them to submit at least one high-resolution photo of themselves, preferably a work-related photo in landscape-orientation. If they didn’t take the photo, make sure they have permission to share it. If you conduct the interview in person, you can ask permission to take a photo yourself.
    • What we do with the photos and other information: We will only use the photos and information they provide to create a profile on CurioCIty and promote the free educational resources developed by Let’s Talk Science. For example, a screenshot of their profile might appear in a promotional brochure.
    • Final review and opting out: They will have a chance to review their profile before it is published. We will not publish anything they are not comfortable with. At any time, they can request that their profile be removed from CurioCity.

After the interview: Writing and submitting the profile

  • Prepare a draft: Write out the full profile as soon as possible after the interview. That way, everything will be fresh in your mind.
    • Don’t throw away your notes. Keep them in case you need to refer to them later.
    • Browse through the career profiles and research profiles already published on CurioCity for an idea of how they’re written.
  • Write in the first person singular. For example, “I work at…”, “When I was younger, I....” The profile should sound like a conversation between the respondent and the person reading it.
  • Make the profile accessible: Secondary students should be able to get something out of it regardless of their reading abilities or their familiarity with the topic.
    • Use familiar vocabulary and short, simple sentences. Avoid jargon and explain any hard-to-understand concepts as clearly as possible.
    • If you need to use specialized vocabulary, see if you can find a good explanation online and provide a hyperlink. For example, a pilot might mention that they are IFR certified. In the profile, you should explain that this refers to “Instrument Flight Rules” and provide a link to a website like http://www.ivaoxa.org/web/pilots/IFR.
    • Provide links to any institutions or programs mentioned in the profile. For instance: “ … the Biomedical Communications program at the University of Toronto”.
    • The Writing Guide for CurioCity Articles includes some additional tips and techniques for accessible writing.
  • Email your completed draft, the respondent’s contact information and any photos or videos to us at volunteers@explorecuriocity.org.
  • Keeping you in the loop: We’ll copy you on any subsequent correspondence with the respondent, including when we ask them to approve the final version of the profile and when we notify them that their profile has been published.

Questions?

Contact us at volunteers@explorecuriocity.org.