Don't Throw Away Your Shot

Mar 09, 2023

Are you throwing away your shot? Recently, I was looking for an expert on spatial statistics, heath, and disasters. I found great papers on these topics. But when I tried to find the authors, I kept hitting dead ends. I couldn’t find emails for the authors. They didn’t have public profiles. One person’s name was spelled differently on papers versus websites. It wasn’t clear if I was looking at different people, a typo, or something else. I was on a tight grant deadline. So I kept moving down my list to find someone to contact.

This experience got me thinking about “silly” reasons we get passed over for opportunities:  

  1. It’s hard to reach you. Busy people won’t keep searching for you unless you’re the ONLY person who can do the job. Fix this by getting a google scholar page. This type of public profile follows you, especially if you change jobs. You can even note if you spell your name multiple ways in publications or if you’ve ever published under a different name. Use a non-work email to set up your account. That way your page won’t disappear if you change jobs. I never thought I’d leave my first faculty job. But I did. And I’m glad my google scholar page could follow me.
  2. No one knows you’re interested. Let friends, colleagues, and mentors know when you’re seeking an opportunity. When people know what you’re seeking, they’ll share opportunities. A student I’ve worked with let me know she was looking for postdocs in trauma. As soon as she said that, a lot of postdoc opportunities happened to come across my desk. I shared those with her.
  3. You never asked. Sometimes you see something and say, “Maybe I could do that one day.” Why not just reach out and ask for the opportunity instead? That’s how a lot of my colleagues got on editorial boards. They asked the editor if they could be considered for the board. Asking doesn’t guarantee results, but it at least lets people know you care about something (see #2 above).

There are many structural and systemic factors that block access to opportunities. But for some opportunities - you just need to get on people’s radars. After my first presentation at the Natural Hazards Workshop, a colleague came up to me and said my talk made her think I should apply to the Enabling Program. I did. That fellowship changed the course of my career. 

So here’s to not throwing away your shot. And if you know someone who could benefit from today’s newsletter, would you mind forwarding it to them? Sharing strategies is one way we create opportunities for each other. Thank you for reading and believing that scholars deserve support for incredible ideas.


Stay in touch: The Newsletter, Twitter, and The Grant Writing Guide book.

P.S. Did you catch the Hamilton reference above? Both of my sisters have won the Hamilton lottery (independently). How’s that for luck! I haven’t gotten to see Hamilton live yet. Have you?

P.P.S. I got to attend my first Natural Hazards Workshop because of the Mary Fran Myers Scholarship. It’s a great opportunity to keep on your radar if you’re interested in disaster research.