Low Risk High Reward Career Advice

From time to time, I get messages from students asking for career advice. In the academia community in Reddit, there are daily posts also asking for how to search for jobs or find mentors. If I had one advice for highly motivated students who might not have the best network or guidance to help them in their path, it is this: Don’t be afraid to send cold emails to successful people.

Ever since I came across this idea, I have been applying it in my own career. Whenever I read articles or listen to podcasts that are fascinating, I reach out to the authors just to say thank you. Sometimes, if I feel it’s relevant, I might even ask for career advice. Believe it or not, most of them actually respond. So, far I have around 85% success rate. People are generally gracious and they always want to help others if what you ask is not too inconvenient for them. The worst thing that would happen is that they would not reply and your email goes to spam. The best case however is that they see your interest and motivation, and you become under their radar. If they sense some opportunity, they might remember you and reach out to you.

If you want to go further and really impress them, you can even create the so-called pre-interview project . It’s a small project that one could do in  a short amount of time that can impress a possible collaborator, future employer, etc.  Especially in this noise-filled world, if you really want to be recognized, you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the rest.