In the last few weeks, it seems that winter has at last receded and spring has ushered itself in, bringing with it fantastic weather, cargo shorts and tans. With it, though, also comes the notion for many Lawrentians that it may be time to find out what they’re doing with their summer or, if you’re graduating, the rest of your life. It is easy to wonder how you’ll possibly land a summer assistantship or that nice entry-level position. I can only say, go ask for it.
Too many times in the last four years, I’ve heard Lawrentians talk about the difficulty of getting into internships, jobs and graduate programs because they have to compete with the big-name schools. What that really means, though, is that students need to adjust their strategies and remove their fears of rejection.
Want that job you don’t meet the application criteria for? Apply for it anyway. Not allowed into a networking event? Use the back door. Rejected from some dream summer internship? Call up every single related group, regardless of whether or not they offer summer internships, and ask. I feel like these ideas aren’t expressed enough at Lawrence. Our small community knows each other so well that the barriers for opportunities hardly ever require such persistence.
Think about it. If someone applied only to jobs they are qualified for in this market, it would be nearly impossible to get a good entry-level position. The worst an employer can do with your application is throw it away, but that won’t matter if you’ve already applied for 50 similar jobs. This isn’t some system where you’re punished for asking and being told no. You don’t have to pay in most cases. So if you go for 50 jobs with a one in one hundred chance of getting hired, at some point it will pay off. You can fail an infinite number of times; you only need to succeed once.
Time and time again, I’ve seen those kinds of students, including Lawrentians, who persistently ask for things and land unbelievable jobs or gigs. In fact, I think Career Services should put on an event with the sole purpose of teaching Lawrentians how to really ask for what they want. Seriously, it would solve everything.
Now, of course, there are a few caveats to not taking no for an answer. Don’t ask the same person or group over and over again. I suspect there can only be diminishing returns with each additional request and at some point it will just come across as annoying. Asking for what you want also doesn’t mean being rude, angry, entitled etc. Rather, treat every request with decency and dedication as if it is the most important opportunity, because they all should be.
Oh, right. There is one other caveat to this technique: patience, and perhaps some humility. When you go for all these long shots over and over again, you can’t expect to land something immediately—though, with enough persistence, it will come sooner rather than later. The chances are that anyone using this technique will receive a fair amount of rejections. Steel yourself for that.
This technique really does work and I think Lawrence could find a way to take advantage of it. Lawrence ought to teach by example, and devote time and energy to persistently instilling in its students the merits of asking.