I don’t normally consider many articles a ‘must read’ – especially when I’ve compiled the information myself. However, I came across this story (albeit from a while ago) and felt absolutely compelled to write about it.
A story surfaced about a Stanford student landing a great job at the company Foursquare after sending an impassioned email to its co-founders. His name was Tristan Walker and he sent an email to co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai. He went on to not only work for the company, but become the company’s Director of Business Development.
On his two-year anniversary with Foursquare he posted on his blog the actual email that started the chain of events getting him the job. Here is the original email from his blog:
Hey Dennis and Naveen
How’s it going? Hope all is well!
My name is Tristan Walker and I’m a first year student (going into my second year) at Stanford Business School (originally from New York). I’m a huge fan of what you both have built and excited about what you guys have planned for FourSquare. It is an awesome, awesome service.
I would love to chat with you guys at some point, if you’re available, about FourSquare. This year, I’m looking to help out and work extremely hard for a startup with guys I can learn a ton from. Dennis, with your experience at Google and the Dodgeball product, and Naveen, with your experience at Sun and engineering in general, I know I could learn a great deal from you both!
Before business school, I was an oil trader on Wall Street for about two years and hated it! Moved out to the Bay/Stanford to pursue my passion for entrepreneurship and the startup world. This past spring I had the opportunity to work for Twitter as an intern and learned a ton. Solidified my commitment to working at a startup that I’m passionate about, and FourSquare is one of those startups that I believe in.
I know you guys are probably getting inundated with internship-type requests, but thought it’d be worth a shot! I can assure you I’m humble and I’m hungry! Let me know if you’d be interested in chatting further. I definitely look forward to hearing from you.
The story continues that this was the first of eight emails he sent to Dennis and Naveen. After the eighth one he got a reply:
“you know what, i just may take you up on some of this, are you ever in nyc?”
The interesting part is that Tristan was in LA! He had no plans to be in NYC, but wrote the following reply to Dennis:
“hey dennis, yeh I was planning on being in ny tomorrow how about we meet up live at your offices?”
Tristan booked a flight that night to fly out the following morning. He met up with Dennis and Naveen and got to know them over a week. After one month he was hired for a full time position at Foursquare.
As they say, the rest is history.
You can read the full article on businessinsider.com.
I found this story fascinating. There is much debate as to whether Tristan just ‘got lucky’ in his approach, or really did what the job search calls for – went above and beyond to impress the Foursquare co-founders. What was most impressive to me was the amount of passion and commitment that Tristan displayed in his quest. He went to great lengths (literally travelling all the way from LA to NYC on a long shot play) to try and land a job in a company he truly desired to work.
At first glance, this may seem like an unlikely story that ‘could never happen to me’, but there are some key inspirational lessons that job seekers can take away from Tristan’s experiences:
You can never have too much passion – Many employers, especially start-up companies, are looking for candidates that are hungry! Hungry to be part of something exciting and new! If you are truly passionate about a company, go to great lengths to let them know about it.
Separate yourself from other candidates – The job search is about getting noticed. Had Tristan sent in his resume through normal channels, would he be where he is today? Always think about how you can stand out from others.
It doesn’t hurt to try – Tristan’s approach is not for everyone, nor something that may even work with many companies, but what did he have to lose? In the worst case scenario, he would have not landed the job and had to look elsewhere. If you feel strongly enough about a company, then go for it!
If nothing else Tristan is an inspiration to job seekers everywhere. Combined with proper planning, effective networking and hard work, passion is truly the secret ingredient to achieving your goals.
Kevin Makra is the President of Sentor Media Inc., and founder of DirectoryOfCareers.ca. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.