The Foot-in-the-Door Method for Reaching Your Goals

Various students come to me with stories of not having enough experience in the field to achieve their goals. There may be a solution for students who are stressed about this situation!

Students can start exploring other opportunities such as internships, part-time jobs, volunteering, shadowing, or networking to reach the goal of a full-time job at a company. The catch is that these other opportunities may not be the desired career goal, but instead gives students the opportunity to get their foot-in-the-door.

Getting your foot in the door refers to getting a job or internship at a lower position and progressing to higher positions within the same firm or industry. The benefits of using this approach allows you to:

  • Learn about the company, employees, and company climate while you work there.
  • Explore the market and field of work.  This applies to undergraduates and recently graduated students who are looking for internship opportunities or building work experience.  
  • Network and build those connections that would help you progress in your career path.
  • Get noticed by managers and leadership teams. If you add value and contribute to helping grow and develop the organization you are working at, employers may end up giving you a great opportunity or create a job role for you.

At my previous job, I knew an alumnus who was interested in working for the Red Sox. When he approached them for a summer internship, he was turned down. Not letting go of his goal, he landed a minimum wage paid job with the Red Sox, where his only task was to place boxes in the Red Sox warehouse. He met some great people there, and within a few years he moved ranks to manage sales and services. This is a great example to show how students can get their foot in the door to gain experience, plus build networks to achieve their dream careers.

As Sheryl Sandberg mentioned in her book, Lean In, “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” We should strive to climb that gym by taking the first step and getting our foot in the door.

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