One of my favorite quotes comes from Thomas Edison. He stated, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Saying yes to job opportunities, tasks, and responsibilities is daunting. It is hard to want to add more to a current workload and we tend to doubt ourselves and our abilities. Yes, just as Edison points out, pursuing an opportunity is work. However, I can speak from experience that saying yes to projects, new responsibilities, and tasks is worth it. It has helped my career multiple times and I predict it will continue to do so.
In my very first internship after I earned my undergraduate degree, I worked for a newspaper. I had a degree in English and was comfortable writing, but not with talking to people. This posed just a slight problem when I was expected to conduct, listen, and record interviews with world-renowned people. I thought I would shadow one of the other reporters for a few days until I learned the ropes. Well, that assumption was wrong. I was immediately asked to cover a solo assignment. I had absolutely no professional experience and was suddenly expected to write for a national, sometimes global, audience. However, I grit my teeth, said “Yes,” and did it. This was the start of weekly assignments and some of my favorite experiences.
At the end of this internship, my editor complimented me on my work ethic and said I had been a favorite intern because I never turned down an assignment, which was apparently a chronic problem in previous interns. I replied with, “I never knew no was an option” because in my mind it never was. I was there to do a job and, even though it constantly pushed me outside of my comfort zone (oh who am I kidding it obliterated my introverted comfort zone), I was determined to say, “Yes'' to every good opportunity.
This experience showed me how important it is to give yourself a chance. By saying “Yes” to a new opportunity, I learned new skills and gave myself an opportunity to succeed that I would never have had if I slammed the door on that opportunity. Yes, it required work, and in my case a lot of uncomfortable work doing things like interviews. However, it showed me that I could do it and it taught me important communication skills, writing techniques, and new style guides. All of this I would never have learned if I didn’t take every assignment.
In career development, it is important to say yes to new opportunities because you never know when new skills will come in handy. Maybe you’ll get the job over another candidate because you have that extra skill. Or maybe you will get a promotion because of your willingness to learn. Either way gaining a new skill will never be a detriment to your career.
For companies, it’s important to give employees new opportunities because it makes them better employees. By investing in the growth of an employee, a company is actually investing in itself. Better employees lead to a better company.