Sell or Show

I just got an interview with a VC firm in Boston. Stokage levels are high. I enjoy this kinda thing.

Applying to college is stressful to most people; to me it was a fun exercise in marketing and sales. The same could be said about finding my summer job in 2010. Since then, I’ve been at the same school and with the same job (read more here). Now that I’m looking for a new summer job, it’s time to get back in the game.

This process is fun to me because I don’t feel that I need to “sell” myself. Most of my friends (interviewed with Goldman and Google and elsewhere) seem to think… that they must convince someone to hire them. I feel that I need to show people who I am, and what I’m all about. And if they like what they see, they will decide to hire me.

For me, my strategy is the best for several reasons. First, all my shortcomings will be apparent after a month of work anyway, I might as well be honest now.  Second, I think I’m well suited for all the jobs I’m applying to. Third, if someone understands who I am and still doesn’t want me, I’m fine with that. Fourth… I wouldn't be good at guessing what potential interviewers want to see.

I’m not saying that it’s easy to show yourself. Infact, it might be harder than selling yourself. It is hard to figure out your skills, passions, strengths and weaknesses. This is another reason I enjoy the process: it gets me thinking. This is an exercise in self awareness. 

Ultimately this philosophy can be applied elsewhere. When I give tours of Middlebury, I don’t try to convince anyone they should come here. I just try to accurately depict student life. When Steve Jobs introduced new products he never seemed to be selling something, but rather showing off something.

This process seems to be effective when you have a product that you believe in, like iPhones, Middlebury College and, well…. Me.