As a student coming from small town America (De Pere, Wisconsin to be exact), I was excited to receive the opportunity to study abroad in London and intern at Elexu. “Excited” being the understatement of the year. Never before was I able to receive an opportunity as such.
The process for me to study abroad was simple. All I had to do was set up an appointment with a study abroad advisor at my college. In a period of three months I filled out a stack of paperwork, applied for a UK Visa, and before I knew it, I was on a jet to London. Little did I know that this first step of asking about studying abroad would lead to a chain reaction of asking and receiving more opportunities.
As someone with literally no sense of orientation in combination of having no GPS on my phone, it has been a necessity for me to ask strangers in London for directions. After the first week of successfully making my way around the massive city through asking, I learned that strangers can be wonderful and it is not so scary to approach someone with a question. More often than not, people are been willing to give a helping hand.
Please continue reading, because this blog post has more substance than about teaching you how to ask for directions. I understand that most people will be able to do so, especially when lost in a large city. This example is merely a template to be applied in other situations in life.
I have received several unforgettable opportunities using this template. At London Fashion Week I was able to receive access to a fashion show by asking a security guard for permission, although I had no credibility to have access into the show. I was also able to receive a chance to shadow a journalist at Sky by asking a tour guide, I made it into the Brit awards for free by asking two people who had just left for their tickets, and I got to go back stage at a show at Ministry of Sound to meet chart topping DJ, Kaskade. These experiences were unforgettable in themselves, but I will also not forget that it was just the enthusiasm and initiative of asking that allowed me to enjoy them.
I think as most of us go through life, we tend to get in a habit of playing too much by the rules. Get in the queue, do not slurp your tea, and most of all, do not talk to people on the tube! But why not break these social norms sometimes? It is a natural human tendency to avoid awkward or uncomfortable situations. Although it may be difficult, it is better to sacrifice that few seconds of embarrassment than to lose out on an opportunity all because you may have been too scared to just ask.
I am not saying that asking will get you anything you want, but it may work out a few times for the situations in which you did. And is it not better to ask and know than to not ask and never know if something would have worked out? You may remember that cheesy, but true quote by Wayne Gretzky, “You miss one hundred percent of the shots that you don’t take.” On this track, I should also recommend Paul Arden’s book, It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be, which illustrates that sometimes people appreciate the initiative to ask more than anything. These simple and common sense theories shouldbe enforced within us at all times!
Although I have already leaned a lot from my classes in London, the lesson that I have learned about the initiate of asking is something that I value more than any textbook knowledge. I hope that this blog post inspires and challenges you to learn the same lesson that I have through my experience in London so far. So the next time you see an opportunity, do not be scared to take advantage of it!