New Way to Get a Job: Stalk-Worship the Company

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Courtesy Alice Lee,

During the recession-scarred past several years, job candidates have gone to extraordinary lengths to try to get hired. Some have offered cash rewards—as much as $25,000!—to anyone who helps land them a job, while others have pleaded for random job leads on Craigslist. Older workers have undergone cosmetic surgery to enhance their job prospects, and, on the behalf of millions of unemployed Americans, the city of Buffalo hosted a billboard that simply said “I need a freakin’ job,” timed to coincide with a visit from President Obama. What’ll job seekers think of next?

How about some good old-fashioned flattery?

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That’s the route chosen by Alice Lee, a marketing major at the University of Pennsylvania. A couple of weeks ago, Lee skipped a few classes in order to create Dear Instagram, a website addressed directly to “Kevin, Josh, Oli, Phillip, Shayne, Jessica, Tim, Amy & Gregor”—the first names of the powers that be at Instagram, a photo-sharing service where Lee would love to work, quite obviously.

“In a nutshell: I am a huge, huge fan of Instagram. And I want to be a part of your team,” Lee writes. “I love what Instagram stands for. And I think your team is totally rad.”

Toward the bottom of the site, Lee gives some background on how, and under what circumstances, it was created:

This site was designed and programmed by Alice Lee within the span of 2.5 days, 4 skipped classes, and several bowls of ramen in attempts to wow and catch the eye of Instagram. It was designed and coded up from scratch.

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The site, which highlights her interest in photography and web startups and incorporates some of her work that uses Instagram, has at least proved successful in garnering her some attention. The site has recently gone viral, with mentions at The Atlantic and BusinessInsider, and Lee’s name has popped up all over Twitter.

All in all, what Lee has done puts the run-of-the-mill resume and cover letter to shame. Perhaps it seems a little creepy, but nowadays, when businesses encourage a blurring between work and play, and when the most sought-after employees seem to be those who live, breathe, and obsess about their jobs 24 hours a day, this is the sort of over-the-top creepy behavior that many companies love.

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Will the stunt get Lee a job with Instagram? We’ll have to wait and see. Chances are, though, that if Instagram doesn’t hire her, there are plenty of other companies who now know her name, and who’d probably be happy to welcome her to the team.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.