Opportunities seem to be everywhere yet nowhere these days. In 2016, expectations are higher than ever to land intense internships and gain experience before you’re even out of high school. While the number of opportunities has increased, the number of students looking for them has gone up even more, creating competition among peers. So how do you get ahead of the game and secure a productive summer or semester? Aside from searching the Internet for available positions, who better to ask for assistance than your professors? If you’re like me and suffer from a bit from social awkwardness, that might seem like an incredibly daunting task. But don’t fret because it’s easier than you might think.
Before you approach your professor, you should sort out exactly what you’re looking for in an internship, job, or research opportunity. Figure out what hours and days you are available, and whether you want a paid position or don’t mind working without a salary. Also decide what field you would like to work in, and whether that is set in stone or if you’re willing to keep an open mind in regards to how related to your interest the position is. Having all of these factors ready will help ensure that you don’t end up stuttering in front of your professor, feeling unprepared and anxious. You might also want to befriend your professor and have them become more familiar with you before asking for any favors. Here’s an awesome article that tells you exactly how you can do that.
Approaching Your Professor
There are a number of ways to contact your professor about upcoming opportunities. The most traditional way is in person, and I believe that it is the most effective and polite. If you approach your professor face-to-face, you’re more likely to get an immediate response and your professor might be more inclined to help you since the interaction is much more personal. On the other hand, e-mails can easily be ignored and sent straight to the junk pile. Talking to people of authority has never been my strong suit and has been the source of overwhelming stress and anxiety, but it is just something that has to be done. If you absolutely cannot bring yourself to talk to your professor in person, an e-mail is better than simply not asking. As Nora Roberts once wisely said, “If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
After The “Encounter”
Hopefully, your professor will be able to hook you up with some awesome opportunities that are right up your alley of interest. If so, be sure to thank him or her! He or she definitely did not have to go through the trouble of connecting you with a position, but did so out of generosity for you! Congratulations, now you have an internship, job, or research opportunity awaiting your eager participation. If you professor wasn’t able to land you a position, then don’t worry! Maybe you can try asking another teacher or even your peers if they’ve heard of any openings you might be interested in. Another TP writer, Allison Capley, covered the topic of networking that could definitely be useful when searching for opportunities. It’s important to remember that you can’t just sit around waiting for people to throw opportunities at you! While you’re doing that, your peers are out hunting for openings that won’t be there by the time you decide to pick yourself up and get active.