Happy Tuesday! I've been a little stuck and unsure on what to write about in the past week. It may be because of temporary writers block, or maybe it's because motivation is lacking when your team is 3-9.. but I decided my next post should be another networking post! It's not a how to, it's an example of networking actually working! The best part? It worked for me! If you read my networking series from a few months back you have read about: Networking, What is it?, Where and How, & Keeping Your Connections. Which are all helpful, but if you're like me, you probably want real life examples. Well here ya go!
Earning a degree in the sports industry (like many others) is oftentimes not enough to land the big time job you're hoping for. You need experience. Probably more importantly, you need a network. And even with these three things, it's going to take time landing where you ultimately hope to land. I've been aware of this from the get go. You'll notice a pattern in my posts on my College Life and my Careers pages, getting out of my comfort zone and/or taking extra steps. I HAD to get a job in college, but I didn't HAVE to get three.. I also didn't have to make sure every job/internship I took was related to my ultimate career goals, I could have just worked in retail for 4+ years (probably making no money because, let's be real, I'd spend it all at wherever I worked..). I've been deliberate with my job/internship choices, volunteer choices, and organization choices, and guess what? I feel like it has paid off! As you saw in my Attention! I'm Moving post, I'm heading to the south for graduate school in the fall (YAY!!) - Since making that decision I applied for a few graduate assistantships and have accepted one (YAY again!!). I'll talk about that position a little later on, but for now lets move on with the networking payoff.
One of the GA positions I applied for had a traditional approach; application, cover letter, resume, references. The other, well I emailed them my resume and asked if they had an opening and was interviewed shortly after. Seems like they took way different approaches right? Well maybe, but the common denominator in both? References and experience. Anyone can fill out a job application and cover letter. (Okay cover letters can be a huge pain, but if you do your research and put in some effort, anyone can write an impressive cover letter!) What you can't "fake" is your experience and your references. If you lie on a resume, shame on you and good luck.. It's pretty easy to know by talking to someone or reading a job application to determine if their experience is what they say it is, so let's all just agree to keep our resumes accurate alright? - So I kept my resume accurate and answered the interview questions honestly, but what I think got me offers from both positions..my references! (AKA, my network!)
Let me take a step back with some background. I intern with Mizzou Athletics and the GA positions I applied for are at University of South Carolina, within Gamecock Athletics. Both SEC schools, which means they know their counterparts at the opposite school. The director of ticketing at USC knows the director of ticketing at Mizzou, and the director at ticketing at Mizzou knows his coworkers at Mizzou Athletics. You can see where I'm going with this right?
One of the GA positions I applied for is within the same department I intern for at Mizzou, therefor my direct boss and the head of USC's department know each other well. I know that there had been emails and phone calls exchanged between the two departments before and during my interview process. I guess they went well, along with my interview, because I was offered the position! - The more surprising example of a network and networking coming through was with the other position. I already mentioned that it was kind of a nontraditional application process, but after submitting my resume to them and scheduling an interview I learned that they had reached out to Mizzou Athletics before interviewing me, and without me giving them any references. This might scare some people, but surprised was more of what I felt! They called their counterpart at Mizzou and asked about me. Well, I don't know that person, BUT he reached out to the director of the department I intern for and after speaking with her, he called USC back and recommended me! - If this isn't a prime example of a network and networking paying off, I don't know what is! - After the recommendation and two interviews, I accepted the position! They never asked me for a reference list, they just reached out the one time, interviewed me, and looked at my resume.
So my point for all of this is that throughout college (and post grad life..) I've built a network, and worked my butt off for my bosses and coworkers to establish good relationships and tried to impress them with my performance. I believe that I have been successful in doing this. The most, take a step back and saw woah, part of this for me is that someone I've never met, in a high level position reached out to a coworker, took her word, and recommended me to people in high level positions at another university. I had heard of instances where things like this happened, but never witnessed it first hand. To have it happen to you, and help you achieve one of your goals, is definitely a moment where you realize your hard work has paid off. - Believe that if you work hard, be a good person, and establish relationships, it will pay off. There have been plenty of long days, unappreciative people, sleepless nights, and coffee filled mornings where the "is this worth it?" thought has came to my mind, but I can tell you that when you see it all paying off, it is one of the most rewarding things you'll experience!
I'd love to help y'all out with networking or anything career and college related! Leave a note below or reach out on my Learn More page!