How to Use Persistence to Get Your Dream Job
Girl Scout alum Jenna Arnold has made quite a name for herself. Known as the cofounder of ORGANIZE (a nonprofit that strives to end waitlists for organ transplants), for her work at the United Nations and MTV, and as a national organizer for the 2017 Women's March on Washington, she also had a book published called Raising Our Hands (BenBella Books, June 2020) and was named one of Oprah’s “100 Super Soul Influencers” and one of Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year.”
The secret to her success? A high level of persistence, which she developed early in life.
“One of the things that I think Girl Scouts does so brilliantly is encourage girls to move in their lives and their social circumstances in a way that’s unique to them and isn’t apologetic for their leadership,” she says, “and it’s critical that we do that in all of our professional settings as well.”
Read on for her advice about how to persist and succeed in developing your own professional life.
1. Determine who you want to work for.
Jenna set her sights on a job at the United Nations, and she was determined to make it happen.
“I really believe in the organization,” she says. “I just kept knocking on the UN’s door. And, finally, they made me a seat with a quarter of a desk, and then half a desk, and then a title.”
2. Reach out to hiring managers . . . repeatedly, if necessary.
“I didn’t know anyone at the UN, but I knew what department I wanted to work in, and I was able to find the rest of the information I needed,” she explains.
“Remember: everybody’s email is ‘gettable,’” Jenna laughs. “Guess on the email format, put together 15 combinations, and try them all,” she suggests.
3. Know your worth.
“The truth is that everybody is looking for passionate talent. It doesn’t mean they’re going to have money for you, but the most important thing isn’t skillset—it’s ambition and persistence,” she says.
4. Don’t wait for an invitation or let credentials limit your potential.
“Everyone is capable of doing most things, and I really believe that I can troubleshoot most things to a point,” Jenna explains. “I cannot troubleshoot through brain surgery. But I have a lot of faith in myself, and I have faith in other people too.”
5. Don’t let your insecurity get in your way.
“Any sense of insecurity comes from the ego, and you’re going to spend the rest of your life wrestling that beast into place,” Jenna notes.
“I believe most people can be part of large-scale solutions, but I [also] know the power of the ego in keeping [ourselves] in the corner. Our biggest challenge is, how do we curb the ego in order to just focus on the work?”
6. Do your research and use it to form a plan.
“Every ounce of information you need is out there,” she says. “So, for example, if you want to stop being a chef and start being an interior designer, just go find out how . . . and then do it.”
7. Acknowledge that times have changed.
In the past, people often found career success by following the “rules.” But we’re living in a different age, when doing everything someone is “supposed” to may not get them very far.
“When we follow the rules and get the best grades and have the best résumé and then we wait our turn for it to happen . . . it won’t,” Jenna says.
“Just remember that those rules,” she continues, “are keeping you in a confined place.”
“When you see an opportunity and you want to get involved, seize it.”