See the title? That’s all success in life is about. You will get the position depending on whether or not you know someone.
Start with one person lower down on the importance chain or with a subject related to them and do well with that person or with that position. Don’t be afraid to e-mail, contact people, and introduce yourself. From what I’ve learned, interviews about your actual skills don’t matter at all.
My ability to attest? Okay, so I’ve only had one job in my life — an internship — but I can pull up example after example where networking will take you where you want. But pay attention because all of the interconnections get confusing.
Start with Ms. Riley, my journalism teacher. She started up the newspaper at my high school, and I tried to do well in the class, unlike most students who took the journalism class for a slacker ‘A’ grade. The next semester, she asked me to be editor of the paper. My senior year, after being editor three years, she pitched an idea to the local paper to let me intern there over the summer. I got it.
An internship? For someone who hadn’t even started college? And for an alright newspaper? I’m in.
My newspaper was a part of the state’s scholastic newspaper competition. I entered a first-place essay my junior year and met the man who runs the program here at UGA. My senior year, I entered another contest, but he lost my entry. He awarded the money to me anyway because he liked my essay entry the year before so much and was confident in my abilities. Guess what? I am sitting at a desk in his office right now as his office assistant. Next year they’re using a grad student to be the assistant, but he’s recommending me to the PR office next door. Guess I’ll still have a job!
Then? I got to college where everything was new and I knew no one, so I had no leg up. I went up to the Red & Black student newspaper in September and started writing a few stories. This semester, I was asked to be a news staffer and cover my own beat. Because I have story after story, people who read the paper regularly recognize me, even many of the journalism teachers I need to get in with to get somewhere.
One person in particular — Conrad Fink. He is the man to know around here, and he’s already paying attention to my byline. And I’m a freshman! As an Honors student, I signed up for his Honors seminar. But I didn’t stop there. I actually tried to do well on my pass/fail paper and got some nice comments. I introduced myself near the beginning weeks of the class and told him I wanted to know more about journalism and the Associated Press. He kept seeing my stories in the paper and now tells me what was good and what I should have changed.
Remember that local paper? Yeah, I got another internship there this summer. And then I am told that I should introduce myself to the department head of the journalism school because the local paper’s publisher saw him at a conference last week. So I do, and use a great quote from him in the story I’m working on for the day.
And then I go back to Fink’s class and respond when he asks questions. Now he actually seeks my opinion in class and calls me one of the up and coming reporters on campus. So I make the point to update him on what I’m doing with that local paper. A second internship and I’m only a freshman.
“Come to me in the fall, Crist, and we’ll talk about your future,” Fink said.
Looks like I’ve got it made. Associated Press? New York Times? I’m thinking, yes.
Just make your connections and make them well. They’ll take you places.