Making Your Own Opportunities

Last week, Seth Godin professed that “safe is risky.”  Many people follow directions, aim for approval from professors/bosses, and color inside the lines. This aversion to risk is actually risky — in that you risk not taking advantage of the world of opportunities around you.

Godin used the example of a student only interviewing with companies that come to her campus to recruit. In doing so, she shuts herself off to all sorts of great employment options, including small/medium-sized companies with no formal recruiting programs with her university. The student’s unwillingness to strike out and go after other options signficantly limits what she can achieve.

I completely agree with Godin.  In today’s economy, it is imperative that you make your own opportunities.  You can’t wait for things to fall into your lap.  You need to go out and make them happen.

Propose an internship idea to a local non-profit where your skills can be utilized. Cold-contact someone within a company that interests you. Set-up an informational interview with an alum in your field. Start a blog to demonstrate your expertise. Go up to a guest speaker after class and strike up a conversation. Launch a company. Write a book. Do something.

My story

A few months ago I was reading through my local newspaper and noticed that it lacked content relating to social media — specifically, how job seekers could utilize social media to aid in their job search. This was a niche I was pretty familiar with, as I had written posts here and presented to several audiences on this topic. So, I sent an e-mail to the business editor in which I offered to pen an article for the paper. I expected not to hear back.

Fast-forward about six weeks, and my first article was published in The Post Standard on the subject of leveraging LinkedIn and Twitter in the job search. It turned out that the timing of my e-mail was perfect; the newspaper’s editors were looking to assemble a team of local career experts to tackle issues relevant to today’s job seekers.

If I hadn’t sent that e-mail, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity.

My advice

 Today, it’s more important than ever to take a proactive approach to your career, whether you’re a college student or workplace veteran.  Once you know what you’d like to accomplish, take strategic steps to make your vision a reality.  And remember, some of the best opportunities lie beyond the comfortable boundaries that you’ve come to know.


Dan Klamm is the Outreach & Marketing Coordinator for Syracuse University Career Services.  In his position, he is responsible for student engagement with Career Services.  This includes managing the marketing campaigns for events and programs, leading social media initiatives, and fostering relationships with people across campus to build awareness of the office.  Connect with him on Twitter @DanKlamm and LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Top 10 Things Companies Look For When Making Hiring Decisions: Part 1
  2. Top 10 Things Companies Look For When Making Hiring Decisions: Part 2
  3. Making the Most of Your Winter Break

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