The year is 2003.
I am a student in the US, in the 3rd semester of my MS program.
We’ve just finished a class where our professor has given us an assignment, convinced that no one would be able to solve it.
He didn’t say that, but everyone could see it on his face.
You know, those professors who derive pleasure from the pain of students :)
It is an individual assignment.
I sat down and OMG, the professor was right.
I don’t even know where to start.
Unlike India, where, by now I would have called 7 of my friends and we would be “exchanging notes” on how to complete, that is not the done thing in the US.
If it is an individual assignment, it is an individual assignment.
I am staring at my textbook.
And my eyes go to the name of the author.
He is a professor of Physics at Princeton University. Expected to win the Nobel Prize anytime now.
Basically GOD in the field.
I google him.
Land up on his webpage.
Which has his email.
And I tell myself, “Let’s ask him how to solve this assignment. He would surely know!”
I draft an email that I regret I do have access to anymore, except in my memory.
In 5 minutes I get a response, “Where are you stuck?”
I don’t make a big deal of it.
I send an email. He replies.
That is how it works.
That is how emails work!
I reply back (you won’t believe this!), “Can you come online on Yahoo messenger?”
(If you do not know about Yahoo messenger, think Tinder in the 2000s, but not for dating, and not with pictures. OK – that wasn’t helpful, I assume!)
He replies yes.
We come online on Yahoo messenger.
I ask him questions.
He patiently replies.
I actually get my assignment done.
I thank him, wish him good night and we both log off.
I submit the assignment and I was the ONLY student who cracked it.
My professor is now both impressed.
He calls me and asks me how the hell did I get this done.
And I, matter of fact, tell him that the author of your textbook helped me.
“Sorry, what? Dr. X helped you?”
“How did he help you?”
“I sent him an email, asking for help. He replied yes. And then he helped me.”
“You sent Dr. X an email, asking for homework help?”
“Yes. Am I in trouble?”
“YOU SENT Dr. X AN EMAIL, ASKING FOR HOMEWORK HELP?”
“Ummm. Yes. You are scaring me now?”
“YOUUUU SENTTTT Dr. X AN EMAILLLL, ASKINGGG FORRR HOMEWORKKKKK HELPPPPP?????”
“Haan bhai haan!!!”
You get the drift!
Cold emails have been awesome, ever since emails came into being.
Here is the truth.
Most people when they start working, check their emails more than they check other messages (except perhaps WhatsApp).
But most students do not communicate via email.
So they think no one does.
The people who will give you a job, an internship, a freelancing gig – all of them check their emails.
Send them emails – please!
Open doors to opportunities that are NOT going to be listed on some job portal, or a LinkedIn post.