One of the biggest myths in the job market today is that there are no jobs for college graduates. Some new grads think that they need years and years of the “right” experience before they can be qualified for anything. Students that are still in school tend to think that the only way to get the attention of their dream companies for internships is by going to career fairs or “sending out their resume.”
The truth is, you don’t need the perfect experience or meet arbitrary job requirements. As long as you’re sure that you can do the job, all you need is the right initiative.
Here are some examples of some unconventional strategies candidates have used to land job offers working with companies like Airbnb, New York Times bestselling authors, and even my own experience -- you can use their exact approach to land your own dream internship next summer.
1. Nina Mufleh
Nina wanted a job at Airbnb.
Most people who want a job at a company like Airbnb would sit back, passively submit their resume, and cross their fingers hoping to hear back.
But Nina knew that a company like Airbnb must get hundreds of applications every single day.
When the competition is that intense, “throwing your hat in the ring” by applying online and doing nothing else effectively makes you a commodity.
Imagine you’re buying shampoo at CVS for the first time.
You’re staring at the shampoo aisle. You’ve got tons of options to choose from. And unless you already use a particular brand, you don’t really care which one you pick.
All the options sort of blend together and it becomes increasingly tough to tell the difference between all of them.
Same thing applies to job applications. Everyone who has looked through a million resumes to find the right person knows that everyone starts to look the same after while.
Nina knew that she had to decommoditize herself by creating demand around herself — by proving that she could add value.
So she created Nina4Airbnb.
She came up with some ideas for Airbnb’s marketing team, organized them in a super clean way, and sent it to the CEO.
Not only did she immediately get an interview with them, but she also got interviews with TONS of other companies as a result — and eventually landed a dream gig.
All because she didn’t follow the “rules.”
2. Charlie Hoehn
Most of us struggle with reaching out to someone we admire and would like to connect with.
We say things like “why would they ever talk to me?” Or “I don’t have anything to offer.”
But in reality, anybody can connect with successful people they admire — all it takes is the right approach. Not fancy credentials, years of experience, or anything like that.
Charlie realized this early on.
Soon after graduating from school, he decided that he wanted to work for people he really admired — bestselling authors like Tim Ferriss, marketers, people who he wanted to be like one day.
But instead of just asking them for a job or offering to help “in any way possible” like everyone else, he took a different approach.
He decided to prove to them that he could add value.
Before he reached out to Tim Ferriss, he did deep research on his blog, his business, and came up with specific ideas for how he could add value. Notice how specific this email is:
Tim Ferriss took on Charlie as his right hand man. And it paid massive dividends for him.
Working alongside successful people in your field is one the most underrated, unconventional, “best kept secrets” of how to skyrocket your career.
In fact, in a recent podcast interview a host asked Gary Vaynerchuk “if you had to start all over today without your name recognition, what would you do?”
Gary responded along the lines of “I’d reach out to all the best business people — people like Mark Cuban, etc — and show them how I could add value to their businesses. I’d tell them to give me a chance.”
Not only will you learn an incredible amount working with the best, you can also leverage their network to 10x the number of your future opportunities.
But it all starts with that first email.
3. My own experience I’ve used similar strategies to land internships at companies like Shutterstock, get interviews at Quora, and more. More recently, I started working with a 500 Startups education marketplace called StudySoup by getting introduced directly to the CEO. I’d found their company on AngelList first and liked what they were working on specifically around serving students specialized content around science and math since that’s where I struggled in school. After reviewing their blog, I realized they could use my help ( you can check it out here, I think it was pretty clear). Here’s the email that I wrote to a mutual contact asking for a referral:
Notice how I 1) asked for a referral to a specific contact (as opposed to “do you know anyone who needs X”), and 2) tried to make it as easy as possible by offering to send an email over with all the relevant details that my contact could easily forward over. Here’s the referral he sent:
If you make it that simple, you’ll be able to tap your existing network and “skip the line” for the jobs you apply for.
People rarely get top tier job offers or internships by sitting back and submitting a resume online -- the best candidates land jobs through sheer hustle. It’s virtually guaranteed to set you apart from the crowd.
Because no one else does it.