Hitting the Pavement
Throughout high school, and my blip-of-time spent in the workforce, I've been exposed to a common phrase. Which, to be quite honest, seems more like a buzz-phrase, than a meaningful one--but I've come to know that this phrase is extremely important, and rings incredibly true: "It's not about what you know, It's about who you know." While simply touting that you know so-and-so won't land you a job or internship, it certainly will help. You still have to know what you’re talking about, but knowing someone and your stuff could make a world of difference for your future.
I’m living proof that this business mantra is the real deal. I’ve worked for five different bosses--with various tasks and responsibilities under each leader--since I’ve been a sophomore in high school. Additionally I have accepted an internship offer for this coming summer. Meaning that I’ve “interviewed” for 6 different positions. In reality, I’ve only formally interviewed for 2: my upcoming internship, and my previous tenure at the University of Wisconsin.
I’ll take my current position for example—I’m currently a Human Resources Intern at a human resources and payroll processing firm. The president is a woman that I’ve known for the last two-and-a-half years: she’s a member at the golf course at which I’ve worked for the last five years. When I began to realize my interest in human resources, and that my current position at the University wasn’t as challenging as I’d hoped, I sent her an email asking if there were any learning opportunities for me within her company (whether interning or otherwise). By right timing and dumb luck, she offered me a position. So while I wasn’t necessarily qualified to take on an HR role, and I never had a formal interview, she saw the dedication I put into my work at the golf course, and my initiative by asking outright for an opportunity. I have had numerous opportunities present themselves in similar fashions.
In the ever-changing dynamic of employee-company relations, managers and leaders look for someone with a track record, and someone they trust; making it clear that having a relationship with someone in that role will ultimately benefit you. It’s not always about what school you go to, what GPA you earn, where you interned junior year, or your extra-curricular involvement. Sometimes it’s just about hitting the pavement, sending emails, following up, and building a professional network of contacts.