For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.
The job search can be a tumultuous, long, and confusing process. Where we aim to be isn't always where we end up. But so many people have stories about a person they met who connected them to another person, or how a chance encounter led them to a job they never imagined themselves in. The surprising ways people landed a job not only set them on a new path, they also provide an interesting story to tell. Being open to opportunity is so important when it comes to the direction your career heads. Rarely do you hear someone say that the path their life has taken is exactly what they imagined for themselves. Honestly, if it was, that'd be quite boring.
As a recent graduate, I have seen this happen over and over to my peers. One friend went into a job interview expecting to talk to one company, and instead was told she would be a better fit at its sister brand, a location she preferred. Now she couldn't be happier going to work every day. Another friend was rejected from the job she had dreamed of starting for years, only to stumble upon one at a company with more opportunity and much greater respect for its employees.
So if you're worried about not getting the job you always dreamed of, don't be. The right one is just around the corner, and might come at you in a way you never expected. Read on to see some of the surprising ways women have landed a job.
"I had moved to a new city in a very expensive country for a few months. My thesis work paid a measly amount, exactly enough to pay my rent in a student accommodation. I was in desperate need of a part-time job to help me sustain once my savings were used up. Psychology interested me and even though I didn't have a degree in it — just a social psychology course I had taken on Coursera — I decided to apply for a three month part-time job in the field.
As the description involved using some software for analysis, I thought it would be worth a try. In a few days, I got a response for an interview. I went all prepared, gathering as much info on clinical psychology as I could. The interview led me to another one with two other people, and then a third one. I was confused about having to undergo three interviews for a temporary part-time student job and being asked so many questions about the actual work I do and the extent of my knowledge. It turned out that they were interested in hiring me for my skills, and thought I could help them with their regular work, and not what I had applied for! I was surprised and relieved on finding this out, and also amused at the turn of events.
So, in a matter of two months, I started working part-time with them, learning about their systems and data, while working on my thesis. Soon after, I joined them as a full-time employee and have been so glad to learn so much in the last few years and work in a field I might have otherwise not thought of! My takeaway is definitely to take every opportunity and learn as much as possible. It does pay off, in some way or the other."
"My daughter was young and I needed a job. I took a job writing a local event announcements-type column and obituaries. It was a clerical type job. One night, the editor handed me a notebook and pen and asked me to cover a local meeting, as a reporter had quit. I had no experience as a reporter but took on the challenge. This one leap of faith has led to a 20- year journalism career, the writing of four novels, one non-fiction book, a screenplay, and a stage play. I tell my children now go through every door that opens, you never know where it is going to lead!"
"Sophomore year of college, I was diagnosed with alopecia areata — an autoimmune disease that causes your hair to fall out in patches. By mid-sophomore year, I had almost no hair on my head and didn't feel like myself at all. [...]
For months I had undergone painful treatments with no results until I found a vitamin called Viviscal that finally helped. I reached out to their press email, upset that it took so long for me to find their product and, that as a current college student studying PR, they needed someone like me to help them get their product into customers' hands. They flew me out from N.J. to Chicago, their HQ, to lead an inspirational meeting with their company on my story and how and why I felt their PR and marketing could be improved. Before I even landed back in N.J., they connected me with their PR agency in NYC, who offered me a summer internship that I gladly accepted!"
"I'm an investigative journalist best known for directing the internationally acclaimed film 'Vanishing Of The Bees.' In 2005, I spotted an ad on Craigslist looking for a host on a TLC series on the 'Ark of the Covenant.' When I saw the post I had a feeling they were looking for me and I replied right away. There were close to 400 applicants. I went to the audition but the truth is I was having extreme menstrual cramps and did a lousy job. I also was not filming with the director but rather the producer that would not ultimately be on the shoot. I spoke to the director and told him that if he really wanted the best performance we would have to work together. A few days later, he was flying me to England where I indeed got the job."
"I am a student at the University of Miami. I landed my PR internship this summer through my Instagram (@sid_sterling). I have 14.5k followers so the Miami-based luxury PR firm actually followed me and started liking my pictures. I DM'd them and asked if they were hiring interns for the summer, and a week later I was hired. I am also working for a meal delivery service company that I landed through my Instagram presence."
"Twenty-five years ago, and [in a] new city, I was seeking a job at a local university, having worked in several universities prior. Not finding anything right away I joined the temp pool at my university of choice. My third temp job at a particular campus school, I worked the admissions desk. A lady I had seen before spoke, telling me she too had seen me before and asked if I was seeking full-time work. Replying that I was, she told me she was leaving her position as a fundraising assistant to join her husband, who had accepted a job out of state. She thought I would be the perfect person for her supervisor, who was a young professional at the time. Long story short, despite a number of other candidates, I got the job. Being older with great experiences, and skills from being a military veteran, the two of us made a great team until I was promoted and accepted another job at the same university."
"Fresh out of high school and new to San Diego, I had very little experience under my belt but was good with computers. While building my first resume, I listed every possible software application I had any sort of proficiency in — including Ventrilo, a voice-chat program used mainly by PC gamers (World of Warcraft, in my case). It padded out my skills and I didn’t think anyone would recognize it, so I didn’t think twice about it.
I eventually landed a job with a small domain registrar/hosting company. Not long after, I learned that my supervisor was also an avid WoW player and called me in for an interview just because she wanted to see the person who listed Vent as a skill on their resume. So began my career in tech and a friendship that lasts to this day."
"I applied to a digital agency without any agency experience. I knew I was a stretch candidate. After a phone interview, the company asked me for a writing sample. I knew my past writing projects were very technical and dry; they did not give my writing skill-set justice. So, instead, I took a few hours, researched one of the agency’s clients and wrote a blog for them. I gave them full rights to the blog and said they could publish it whether or not they hired me. This set me apart and I got the job."
"When I was 22 years old I chose to not complete my degree in psychology. I noticed an entrepreneur on TV, liked what he talked about, and decided I’d rather be involved in what he was doing. I eventually secured a six-week internship with him as a researcher and journalist, eventually becoming a news writer and his right-hand media executive. I stayed with the business for nearly five years (until I decided to take a career break and travel)."
"I was free most of the time, so when my sister needed sinus surgery, she asked if I would volunteer and fill in for her at a local high school. Sure! It would only be two to three weeks. I filled in for her. When she returned, the principal asked if I would stay during March and April while they did some testing for the special needs students. Sure why not?! Then I was asked to stay in May and June to help special needs students with their final exam. My *two weeks* of volunteering turned into a four-month paid position with an invite to return the following school year."
"I once landed a job by talking about how Leslie Knope is my spirit animal. I thought I had blown the interview but turns out the lady interviewing me was a huge 'Parks and Rec' fan."
"I was applying for a PR position with a highly reputable company in Miami. I knew confidence was key when interviewing and really wanted to leave them with something they could remember me by. Given I didn't have much experience in the field, I decided to go with the "I'm here to push myself, learn and climb the ladder" position. After going over my experience and convincing them of my go-getter, self-starter personality, a question arose, "What would be your goal here at (company)?" My response? I looked the VP of the company, the one that ran the division I wanted to run and was known as the "intimidating" one, straight in the eye and said, "I'm here to take your position." She smirked and they both kind of had this look of... great answer! Most people say they would be too scared of their reaction to say that, but I saw it as a way to show them I'm here to make moves."
"My husband, daughter, and I moved away from paradise on the isle of Kauai in Hawaii to pursue a retro camper van adventure — we drove for three months without a plan, arrived in Austin, and happened to visit a friend I hadn't seen in 10 years. We ended up staying with her and then in town. She happened to be incredibly well-connected in the ATX start-up world and introduced me to a colleague on LinkedIn who was desperately searching for the right writer for their health and wellness company. I got a call while we were out on a boat on the Colorado River, was invited to a coffee meet-up, and two months later, had a thriving freelance turned full-time opportunity!"
As you can see, opportunities can be anywhere — be open to it and see what happens.