Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of seizing opportunities. It pains me to watch young people (actually all people) sit back and wait for the opportunities to come to them.
What are you waiting for. Stand up and grab those opportunities with both hands people!!!
But what about if the opportunity doesn’t exist yet? How can you grab something that’s not there?
Actually … it’s not that hard. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking a question.
Let me tell you about how we filled out our latest intern role.
In 2018, Saara and I started planning our 2019 intern schedule. We had a plan to take 3 interns over the course of the year and we had a plan of how we would promote the opportunities from late January.
However, in early January we received an email from Abby.
Abby knew us from volunteering at a couple of events in 2018 and so she decided to reach out and see if we knew of any intern opportunities in Brisbane that she might be suitable for – because she was really keen to get some event experience.
When she sent the email she had no clue that we had an opportunity sitting there waiting for her. But with a bit of luck and good fortune we did.
So we invited Abby in for the interview. Had a great chat and offered her the internship on the way out the door.
Abby seized and ran with this particular opportunity.
So … where does that leave you, you might wonder? Did Abby just cut in front of a whole heap of well-meaning interns who were waiting for internships to be posted on relevant job boards?
Well, yes. She kind of did.
But let’s get things straight. This is a story of reality.
Estimates say that as many as 80% of jobs are never listed or posted to job boards … they are filled with people exactly like Abby … people who worked their networks, asked the questions and put their hands up without even realising that they were putting their hand up.
So here we have our first two lessons …
Lesson 1: We cannot emphasise this one enough – but your networks are soooooo important when it comes to opening the door and presenting opportunities.
Lesson 2: Even if you have a kick-ass network that you have worked to cultivate and develop … it’s still on you to open the dialogue and ask the questions (opportunities rarely float to you). Don’t simply expect your network to bring the opportunities to you.
As you evolve in your career, you will also start to realise that it’s not just a matter of finding the opportunities that may not be so visible but sometimes you will need to carve out your own growth and promotion opportunities.
Perhaps there is a project you are keen to take on and your boss doesn’t know this is of interest to you – or perhaps you feel ready to take on more responsibility and step up the game even though you have been there for less time than Betty Sue or you aren’t quite as experienced as Bobby Brown.
There are so many variables to take into consideration and I fully acknowledge that things are not always simple, nor black and white – but sometimes you do just need to have the courage to ask the question.
Which leads us to our final lesson for the day.
Lesson 3: Stop thinking there is only one set of rules to play the game and get to where you want to be. Sometimes we need to stop holding ourselves back and have the courage to step out of line and find the shortcut to the opportunity you know is there.
Go on. I dare you.
TL;DR. Your career does not work like tinder, grindr or bumble. Opportunities are not served up to you for the taking according to how you are feeling at that moment in time. Sometimes you have to work hard to bring the opportunities to life. It can be hard work – but it’s totally worth it in the end.