Just Ask

Heritage E-STEM Magnet School

The best career advice I can offer is to just ask.

Last week I spoke to two classes of middle school students at Heritage E-STEM Magnet School. I shared my college and career journey, reflecting on how I became a freelance writer and sharing what insights and lessons I could.

The more I reflected on my career and how I got here, one of the lessons that jumped out was the value of asking: It never hurts to ask.

So many opportunities have come about because I simply asked:

  • How can I help? As a teenager, a brand new newsletter from my youth group showed up in the mail. I loved it, immediately called my youth pastor, and asked how I could help.
  • Can I write for your magazine? 25 years ago, an unsolicited email to an editor turned into a volunteer writing gig, an internship, an eventually a 20-year relationship of paid jobs. (And I realize how rarely an email like that to an editor works, but in this case it did.)
  • Can I use your artwork? Using a local artist’s work for a postcard turned into multiple collaborations.

Of course you have to do more than ask—you have to follow through. And sometimes it’s not about asking, it’s just about doing it (but that’s another post).

But you’d be surprised at how many doors open just by asking.