I’ve heard the saying, “Luck is the combination of Preparation and Opportunity.” This is true, but I feel like something has been forgotten. While being prepared when an opportunity shows itself is important, nobody ever mentions the most important thing to remember, at least in my opinion, is to ask the question. “The Question” is not one singular inquiry, but those thoughts you happen to have during the job search/hiring process which could potentially improve your situation.
In the past year I have realized just how important it can be to ask that question that has been rolling around in your head but your unsure of. On two separate occasions in the past year I decided that I might as well ask that big question. What’s the worst that could happen? In one instance it worked out great and allowed me to gain experience that I have been told will be essential in the next step after I graduate. The other situation did not play out as favorably for me but still was important.
The first occurred at the end of the spring 2012 semester. During one of my journalism classes someone from the East Tennessean (the school newspaper) came and talked to the class and left a pile of applications. Having already contributed a few articles to the paper I picked up an application and filled it out with the intent of “sports writer” being the position I would go after. Before he left, Todd, now the paper’s executive editor, mentioned that he had been the sports editor before being appointed to the executive position leaving the spot needing to be filled before the beginning of the fall 2012 semester.
As the final weeks of classes wound down the idea rolled around in my head that I should add the “editor” title in the position desired blank on the application. Before turning the application in to the office I decided that I might as well, it couldn’t really hurt. So before the semester ended I dropped off the application and turned my attention towards a internship I had landed working with the Johnson City Cardinals in a media relations role.
By the time August rolled around, I had almost forgotten about the application until I received a phone call from Todd asking me if I could come in and talk to him. Being a journalism major I of course I said yes. Before we got off the phone I was surprised when he mentioned that I would be interviewing for the editor position. Surely I heard wrong, there were experienced staff writers returning and surely applying for the position. I chalked it up to the paper wanting to have as many writers as possible and the editor interview was a way to keep me interested. Fast forward a few weeks, and I got another phone call informing me that the editor position was mine if I still wanted it. I had very minimal writing experience, absolutely no design/layout experience and really never enjoyed proofing my peers work during my English classes.
I’m sure I might have said something during the interview; one line specifically I think helped me land the spot. That’s a different post, but I believe it was the main reason I was now the Sports Editor for my college newspaper.
I didn’t realize just how important landing that job was until I started sending out resumes for advice, and all those professionals starting telling me how important that experience would be during the job hunt.
The second question I convinced myself to ask did not turn out in my favor but was just as important. A few weeks ago I stopped by the Johnson City Cardinals office to say hi and see the guys I had worked with over the summer. This is a business built on relationships and you never know when one from the past will benefit you.
Before I left the office, the general manager extended an invite and asked me if I would come back this summer in basically the same role but with more responsibility and a larger role in the teams media relations, of course I said yes. This summer was different though for me, though. Last year I had two jobs during the summer that supplied me with more than enough pay for the fact that the Cardinals position was unpaid to not bother me. This year I have currently zero jobs, which means zero income.
After a few weeks of serious thought I decided I would go to the Cardinals and ask if there was any way my internship could be turned into a paid-internship. The Cardinals are run by a non-profit organization in Johnson City that does wonderful things for area youth sports. Unfortunately the non-profit status of the organization limits the funds and resources. After discussing the situation with management they assured me that if they had the resources they would love to pay me but just couldn’t afford to. In turn, I made sure it was clear that I was in no way upset about the situation and it would not affect my work or attitude at my position. It was simply a question I needed to ask for myself.
It’s important to always ask how you can make your situation better. While it may not always go your way, it’s important in life to ask the questions that pop-up in your head. When the worst thing that could happen is someone say “no,” why not?