The following was originally posted on FoodGrads.com
I just did an episode of My Food Job Rocks with Jonathon Weber and it had me thinking about my college experience and how I got some of my gigs.
Though I wasn’t as brave and ambitious as Jonathon, I still got my internships and had a good time in college. But I was so impressed that Jonathon got like, 3 internships while doing school work in college.
I’ve dissected Jonathon’s tactics for finding and asking for internships and I’d like to share them with you here.
Finding People and Cold Calling
First off, Jon targeted very small companies. Niagara College is a great area where food starters apparently appear. From chefs to food technologists, it was a great place for Jon to start looking for experience.
He then cold called these businesses to ask to meet up and see how he could help them. I’m sure Jon got rejected plenty of times, and had to get up from each one. But he sure did get those internships.
Most colleges have a farmer’s market-type of community and the best place for a food scientist to find people might be the vendor selling organic honey. Don’t cold approach them while working. I’ve gotten scolded for doing that.
Instead, collect everyone’s business cards and then schedule a plan to call or email them for coffee.
“Let me Work With You”
A small business is a great place to target when you’re young because most likely, a small business would not be able to afford a proper R+D scientist.
Jon knew that, and used being a student as an advantage. By asking “let me work with you” he is able to sympathize more with his client and in turn, the client will respect that this is a learning process for both of them.
Sometimes, there is a possibility that you will have to do the work for free and this is very hard for most young people to grasp. Doing work free is the most convincing way to gain experience and as long as you have no financial problems, then it makes sense to work for free.
If you show up every day, and work your hardest, people will see and recognize that. Not to mention, the skills you learn are extremely valuable.
Always have a Learner’s Mindset
You can just tell from the interview that Jon loves what he does and he always wants to keep learning. When you have a learner’s mindset, your ego doesn’t take control and you don’t have to think you’re better than what you’re going to experience.
Jon’s ability to want to learn while doing his internships gained dividends when it came to what he was doing and in his current career in Herbaland.
So how do you develop a learner’s mindset? Well, there’s a slow way and a fast way… now we’re going to go on a tangent.
Read as many self-help books as possible. I had an argument yesterday about the value of self-help books. The argument was that reading a self-help book won’t instantly make you a better person. This is true, after you’re done reading, you won’t all of a sudden be a better person. Heck you might not even do the actions the book tells you to!
However, I’ve learned that as you keep on reading self-help books, two things happen. For one, you get into the habit of trying to improve yourself, and two, you realize the trends. To the point where you can separate the good books from the boring. Think of it as a slow propaganda training that will eventually make you a better person.
Yea people are always going to say “But that isn’t actionable! Or that it’s a waste of money!” Maybe it is, maybe you become one of those people you hate that always talks but never does any action. There are a few ways to kick it into gear.
There are two ways of getting to the learner’s mindset and both involve money. More importantly, both involve risk, in which embracing risk will change your life.
One is to get a mentor. You probably should pay this mentor because the value becomes so much greater on both ends. Money makes things appear valuable, and paying someone for advice makes both ends work harder.
Another is to lose a lot of money on a dumb mistake. Once you do that, you have a different perspective in life. Ideally, you might have read enough self-help books to catalyze your efforts and you just have the ability to not only absorb the information better, but now you can apply it faster.
I’ve done both methods. It’s cost me a lot of money, but doing this has taught me how to absorb information better, how to use this information quickly, and how to really appreciate life for what it is.
This is probably the most unconventional advice you’ve ever received. Losing money to achieve the learner’s mindset? That makes absolutely no sense! Well, usually when you lose, you have two options. Hide and not talk about it, or prove to yourself you’re better than that.
Again, the slow way of gaining a learner’s mindset is perfectly fine. Most, if not everyone who wants a great career takes this path. However, most young successful people I know have had something traumatic happen to their lives and they recover from it. For some, that catalyst is something you need to kick you into gear.