So, I’m starting a new job on June 7. I’ll be working in the Penn State Undergraduate Admissions Office as an admissions officer/writer and I couldn’t be more excited. The story of how I came to this job is truly a great example of the power of networking (I know, I know, you’re probably sick of hearing that lame phrase, but give me a few minutes to argue otherwise):
Two years ago, I attended the CASE Summer Institute in Communications and Marketing in Burlington, Vermont. I was a few months out of college, brand new to my job, and didn’t know anyone else attending the conference. I ended up meeting a great group of people there and keeping in touch with them through social networking. One of them was Shawn, director of College Relations at Hiram College. Shawn contacted me out of the blue last fall to let me know that his friend Renee was applying for a job and Penn State and had a few questions about the area. He put the two of us in touch and we exchanged e-mails for a few weeks as she went through the interview process and eventually accepted the job.
It just so happens that Renee’s job was in Undergraduate Admissions. A few months, she brought it to my attention that her office was looking to hire a new marketing person and she thought I should apply for it. I got my resume and cover letter in just before the job posting closed and was contacted about an interview a few days later. Knowing Shawn and Renee undoubtedly helped me get my foot in the door and put my resume at the top of the pile.
Will my approach work for everyone? No, of course not. The hiring in some fields is based more on technical skills or other competencies than who you know at the organization. But, networking is important in marketing/communications, where many job applicants have similar backgrounds and skill sets — placing more emphasis on things like personal connections and recommendations. Even though Penn State is one of the largest schools in the country, its staff is pretty interconnected and knowing the right people can really make a difference. I make an effort to get to know people, both personally and professionally, to expand my network. This just isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it can certainly have positive effects if done well.
Lastly, I don’t discount the fact that luck played at least somewhat of a role in making this new job possible. I happened to know the right people and be in the right place at the right time. But, the more people you know and connect with, the greater your odds are of finding yourself in a “lucky” situation.
I hope to be able to “pay it forward” and, if my current position in the College of Information Sciences and Technology is refilled, use my network to make recommendations about people who would be good fits for the job.