When a mentor first told me to “create your own opportunities”, I took it lightly, thinking that all opportunities open to me would be found through friends, colleagues, family or online. My mind could not wrap around the concept of those four words - I had always used and followed processes in order to give back to volunteer organizations, to meet new people, and to apply for internships. So far in 2018, I’ve had the chance to create a few exciting opportunities for myself, from getting a position at a high-tech software company, to developing and scaling Telfer’s very own Women in Management Network (WMN).
What I’ve learned is it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Being able to communicate your value in a way that promotes your skillset and highlights different achievements is one of the most important parts of the “create your own opportunities” formula. For example, my decision to switch into Human Resource Management in my final year allows me to gain competencies related to human capital, and is a benefit to my financial and accounting background which I studied over the last four years. With this knowledge in hand, I will now be a well-rounded businesswoman once I finish school and fully enter the workforce. Related to this concept is the concept of self-awareness: knowing yourself; your skills, interests and passions; and what value you can bring to those around you. If you’re aware of what you enjoy doing and you align it with your personal and professional values, you will be able to better select the opportunities that are a fit for you.
Another important part of the formula is your willingness to step out of your comfort zone. This is where change happens! Engage with the right people and situations – once the industry you’d like to enter is defined, take action and seek out networking events that bring together professionals currently working in the industry. Did you know that only 20 % of jobs are posted online? The other 80% is filled by word-of-mouth recommendations and people actively creating/seeking out these opportunities. By attending networking events, meeting like-minded people, and communicating your value (even as a student) you’re putting yourself out there and making it easy for people to find someone with your skillset and fresh perspective. Instead of seeking someone like you out, you’ve now appeared right in front of them!
The final point I wish to mention is staying open. Many of us have already created the ideal job or volunteer opportunity in our minds. However, rarely will our plans work out exactly the way we would like them to. Instead of focusing on exactly what you want, be open to the different ways this plan can unfold. By having a loose grip on this plan (knowing the what, but being open to the how, for example), you may spot opportunities that you didn’t recognize earlier.
Creating your own opportunities may seem daunting, but after you’ve done it once, it becomes much easier to do it again. Know yourself, communicate your value, engage with the right people, and stay open. By following these tips and keeping a positive and grateful mindset throughout your journey, you will start to be more aware of all the good things flowing your way!