Yesterday, someone in the audience (at a conference that I was attending) introduced their question with the statement, “everyone around me has connections,” and completed their thought with the self-defeatist “But I don’t have the connectons to assure me an internship.” I seem to be missing out the question, which concerned whether or not candidates would be weighed higher if they had connections to the hiring staff as opposed to someone who was a shot in the dark, because it is for the most part irrelevant. The girl added a slew of words that merely added to her negative disposition – mentioning that she wasn’t in the place to have connections. Why not?
It seemed as though that what she was hinting at was that there had to be a preset formation of networks that directed you wherever – and if you were not in the scope of said network, you’d essentially always be out. That’s flat out wrong.
Admittedly, it can be more difficult breaking into an industry without any connections, but it is that beauty of being scrappy that teaches you so many things. I had no “hook-ups” going into any of the fields that I work in now.
I can vividly recall how I had my start — I had no connections to anything. I made cold calls of sorts – showing my portfolio to anyone that would listen to me. Someone eventually did. From there, I learned how to network before I even knew what it was called. I merely labeled it as “talking people up” and “reaching out.” Little by little, I wound up with my own network and set of connections.
And what about all those other jobs that I seemed to have created for myself? I tossed out solutions to what I perceived to be missed opportunities for the proposed companies. It wasn’t exactly abstract, but I couldn’t liken it to anything until a couple of weeks ago. The emphasis of the design process – assessing the field, finding need, creating solutions – with BREAKER made me realize that there was a structure to everything that I had proposed; I simply hadn’t known how to define the method.
Connections help, but they most certainly aren’t the end-all, be-all. There is a path to everything; it simply depends on how hard you’re willing to work.
Image via Flickr (user: futureshape)