If opportunity doesn’t knock, build the door yourself.
We all have been told to take initiative at some point in our lives. I have always been one to take things literally. I know what I want, and I know when and how to go after it. I’ve told this story to quite a few people in passing, but I’ve never just written it out. The way I got my first “big girl job” is a little different than most, but it is also the way I got my graduate assistantship. I’m going to start at my graduate assistantship, and work my way forward.
How often have you been told it’s not what you know, it’s who you know? Well, I’m living proof that you can use WHAT you know to get to who you WANT to know. In 2015, I was getting ready to graduate from THE Valdosta State University. I knew that I didn’t want to pay for grad school, I researched where I wanted to go, and how to get a free ride. In Janaury of 2015, I started researching marketing departments at various colleges I wanted to attend. Once I found those colleges, I looked up who was over graduate assistantships there. E-mails were sent to every single one of them. I told them my qualifications, my background, and why I deserved to be their graduate assistant.
I also took it one step further, I researched the head of every marketing department to see if they were looking for a graduate assistant. This was the first step, they would soon know my name. All of them said they weren’t sure, but would reach out later. (Which we all know rarely actually means anything.) I graduated May 10, 2015. On May 12th I got an email from the VP of Marketing at Armstrong State University requesting an interview as their GA had gotten sick, and they needed someone to start ASAP. I had already accepted my term at Armstrong for the Fall, and here they were asking me to come 3 months earlier PAID. My (now) husband and I took the trip to Savannah for my interview. They offered me the job on the spot, and asked if I could get enrolled that day.
My godmom opened her home to me for the Summer. I moved within 2 weeks down to Savannah to take a job + tuition that I had no plans to do. This is to show that initiative pays off when you least expect it sometimes.
If it works at least once, there’s a high probablity that it would happen again right? I knew the company I wanted to work for EARLY. The research was done, I knew people who worked there, and I knew I was skilled enough to do it. Around mid-2016 (before I graduated) I decided I was going to make my way into those walls. I searched “Company name college recruiter” on LinkedIn. After coming across her LinkedIn and sent her an InMail. (Check out my article on LinkedIn!) After about 2 weeks of not responding, I reached out to my sister in law, who previously worked there to find out how e-mail addresses at the company were set up. She told me the standard way, and I took my shot and sent an e-mail requesting an interview for an internship. In this email, I detailed my background, experience, and dedication. Within 24 hours, she responded to me stating that they don’t have internship opportunities for grad students, but they do have another program and she’d love to discuss it with me. We set up a conference call for the next day. She requested that I reach back out in 2 months when the application would go live. I reached out (thanks to a calendar reminder) on that day 2 months later. She set me up an interview, and the following Monday I had an offer.
Shoot Your Shot!
There is importance in taking initiative. Are you doing all you can for your career? When did you last reach out? Are you following up effectively? Being passive in your career search won’t help you in the long run. A leader is not one who sits around and waits, but goes after what they want!
When is the last time you took initiative? How did it pay off?