‘How I got my foot in the door’: Sam Bertram, Shashikala Davidson and Anna Zhang


Getting a job doing what you love isn’t easy. Figuring out what type of job you want isn’t easy either. However, the best advice that I’ve taken to figuring out what I want to do, as well as getting my foot in the door, is to SAY YES! Say yes to opportunities to volunteer at conferences. Say yes to upskilling yourself in a practical skill. Say yes to email subscriptions to your favourite organisations – you never know when they’ll send out an email with the subject, “positions available”. Say yes to keeping a positive outlook even when the rejection emails flood in. Good comes to those who are patient. And whilst you’re waiting to get your foot in the door, work on that project that you’ve always wanted to start. Take time out for yourself because working in a ‘do-good’ job is often so rewarding that you forget to look after yourself. So take those opportunities between roles to rest as well.

And when you get your foot in the door, say yes to learning from the experience, whether good or bad. Take time to reflect on things that may not feel right, and things that you would want to do differently next time. Perhaps, this isn’t the place to create change. However, don’t forget that you are building a nest egg of experiences and learning’s that will see you get to your dream job.  Anna Zhang


Networking. The term itself scares me to pieces, however recent experiences have illustrated that networking does not have to be a formal task of going to fancy drinks or important events with people more experienced than yourself. It really is not about meeting people superior to yourself in fact. Contrary to this belief, networking is about realising your own worth and potential. Personally, unleashing my potential became a matter of confronting my social anxiety. It required me simply to seek out opportunities to meet new people through activities such as voluntary work, university classes, clubs and sport.

The opportunity to do some private French tutoring was one job opportunity which arose from being acquainted with a student whose sister was looking for some extra help with her French. Another opportunity for work resulted from demonstrating openness, honesty and interest in gaining experience in fields that a classmate was working in. Showing a willingness to expand my experiences and an interest in a classmate led to an opportunity to work at one of the Big 4 Accounting firms for a short period, simply through knowing someone whose manager was looking for someone to fill a shortage. – Shashikala Davidson


When looking for that first job after graduation I stubbornly wanted to “make it on my own.” I refused advice from my family and potential introductions because I thought that by getting a job through an acquaintance of my dad’s that I was somehow not succeeding. Finally, after months of looking and nothing working out, I heard of a friend going back to school and leaving a position. By this point I had learned that it wasn’t about how you read on paper, it wasn’t even about how well you interviewed. It was entirely dependent on whether the company had work and if someone in the office spoke favourably about you.

Fifty-percent of the reason I got the job there was because my friend recommended me to the boss, but 100% of the reason I got the interview in the first place was because of him. You really do have to use any and every advantage in your favour. It is resourceful to ask for recommendations from someone you know, it is smart and shows initiative. In an increasingly competitive world no one can afford to pass on any opportunities because your success is measured not by how you get the job, but how you do the job. – Sam Bertram

Sam Bertram, Shashikala Davidson and Anna Zhang are the 3 winners of YOA’s Writing Competition in the category ‘How I got my foot in the door.’ 

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