“Enhancing Career Opportunities for Professionals in Bug-related Fields”

Texting someone twice in a row or spamming them with messages is something that many people, especially in Generation Z, fear.

While it can be intimidating to send multiple messages without a response, it’s even scarier to come across as overbearing to professionals.

This fear, which stems from not wanting to overwhelm recruiters, professors, and professionals with messages, holds students back from progressing in their careers.

It’s better to be persistent than to miss out on valuable opportunities by not reaching out at all.

If I hadn’t overcome my fear of being overbearing, I wouldn’t be writing this article for this publication.

In April, I came across a listing for the California Student Journalism Corps at EdSource and quickly put together a cover letter, resume, and list of my previous work. However, when I went back to the website after two days, the post had disappeared.

Unknown to my overwhelmed brain focused on midterms, the application deadline had passed, and it seemed like the opportunity was gone.

Despite my worries that my last-minute email would get lost among many others, my friend Brittany encouraged me to send my application anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response less than 24 hours later, informing me that although the cohort was mostly full, there was still a chance for me. After submitting my documents quickly and having a successful phone interview with the internship coordinator, I was offered a position.

Now, in my second semester as a Student Corps member, the experience has been invaluable. And it would never have happened if I had let my intrusive thoughts win.

A quick look through my emails shows that I’ve used the phrase “follow up” in some form in my communications with professionals or co-workers a total of 34 times. Perhaps I should try to vary my use of “follow up,” but the sentiment remains.

Not once did I receive a response telling me to stop emailing or that I was bothering someone. Most of my emails led to responses thanking me for following up and apologizing for any delays.

Some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as a journalist were the result of spontaneous messages I sent. Many emails went unanswered, but those that received responses were incredibly helpful to me.

I was able to attend and create content at the 2023 Online News Association conference in Philadelphia because I applied for a scholarship opportunity that I never thought I would win. At the conference, I connected with writers, editors, and leaders from newsrooms that I had long admired.

Less than a year before that, I applied to cover the Rolling Loud hip-hop festival for San Diego State University’s publication, The Daily Aztec. As I walked through the campgrounds filled with excited fans and incredible performances, I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t submitted that application.

Daniel Newell, the executive director of San Diego State’s career center, works to help students find jobs and internships during and after college. Based on his experience with recruiters, both as one and working with them, he emphasized that persistence is an important quality for applicants.

“Every recruiter appreciates genuine interest and passion,” Newell said. “I’ve encountered many individuals who didn’t meet all the job requirements, but their persistence, dedication, and passion stood out. I would choose a passionate person who is eager to learn and get the job done over someone with experience but lacking enthusiasm for the position.”

While these qualities are crucial for building connections, Newell also emphasized the importance of maintaining a respectful tone and demeanor when interacting with professionals.

“When you’re communicating with a professional or a recruiter, it’s essential to always be professional,” Newell advised. “Even if you believe they’re not assessing or judging you, they are. Every interaction matters.”

Instead of debating whether to send a follow-up message, students and aspiring professionals should focus on how to deliver their messages effectively. Being pushy and unprofessional can be a major turn-off, but being persistent and professional can help you secure a job.

Students aren’t alone in their efforts to network and reach out to professionals. And you don’t have to rely solely on advice from a 22-year-old like myself. The New York Times published a guide on how to get email responses by being truthful, quick, and direct. The Wall Street Journal also provided detailed tips and tricks for sending thank-you messages after a job interview.

It’s completely normal to feel nervous when reaching out to people you admire or want to work with. I experience imposter syndrome all the time. But you never know what might happen when you reach out, and there’s only so much you can achieve if you don’t take that step.

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Noah Lyons, California Student Journalism Corps.