WARNING: Side effects of a Millennial’s post graduate life include finishing a dead end internship, word vomiting career goals, moving back with parents, anxiety, dealing with an excessive amount of loans. What do all of these things have in common? College graduates are still left puzzled, seeking the answer how to break into the industry. It is called networking, boys and girls, and hard work.
Networking to a Millennial or Generation Z-er innately corresponds to social media outlets and networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. To revisit the meaning of networking, a Google definition states networking is “interaction with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.” To stand out in an industry, one does not need to have the shiniest LinkedIn profile or the driest looking, robotic, and shriveled up Facebook page. It is about communicating and interacting with other unique individuals who have a personality passed their rewarding and impressive skill sets.
Networking often has negative connotations, implying fake people and a free ride to success. To debunk this misconception, I would like to point out that through networking, you are not only receiving beneficial opportunities but you are providing them as well. It is a give and take relationship. When one reaches out to a new industry, they naturally ask a lot of questions and are seeking advice from professionals. As they communicate with the experts, they are receiving valuable information while providing resources for companies in exchange. By reaching out to companies, they are better able to understand the new workforce entering the industry. Expectations are formed and common skill sets are placed on the table.
Perhaps consider what goes on when a recent graduate sends in a regular application to a company without having networked in the industry. How does the company find out how reliable you are? How true are the skill sets you provided on that piece of paper? Are you over promising? Do you have a good work ethic? Networking does not only give you a sense of what companies look for in a candidate, but it also helps them weed out the pool of applicants. It is understandable that networking has a bad reputation for favoritism and unfair promotions to ineligible applicants, but by having open conversations about networking, we can steer away from these unreasonable practices. It is a learning experience for the fresh out of college young adults that should not be discouraged. More graduates should take advantage of networking. Knowing your worth and working hard to keep it includes being able to network in the industry. It is an unspoken responsibility that must be understood; the responsibility to continue learning and gaining experience after college. Networking is not solely a using relationship. It is beneficial for both parties.
As my fellow mentors and experts in the field continue to pave new and exciting opportunities for me, I thankfully revise my resume with these fresh experiences. My post college journey starts by reaching out to several members in the community for information on the AV industry and resume help. I did not realize that I was also opening doors. One evening after another great podcast done on AV Power Up!, an email from Hope flows into my mailbox with not only useful feedback about my resume, but a surprising job opportunity at Wrigley Field. I gratefully accept the offer. Soon enough, I am standing on a construction site, hard hat and the rest of my PPE, next to Hope, a Crestron certified programmer. There I was in a matter of days, shadowing and assisting a successful individual; one who has the job that I eventually aspire to achieve in my career.
As a Chicagoan, it is a little embarrassing for me to admit that this was my first time stepping foot onto Wrigley. I was able to observe first hand impressive tunnel light sequencing, the legendary baseball field, and of course the updated historical marquee drama. Due to my young age, there was the occasional raised eyebrow as I entered the construction grounds of Wrigley. These looks were justified, for I understand that security has an obligation to keep out trespassing college fans from sneaking in. No down talking was done, and everyone was professional about asking for my reasoning.
Never have I seen project changes in real time and the effects it has for onsite workflow. Even with a fast paced and potentially very stressful environment, the electrical contractor, Tommy, was the most peaceful and straight forward person I have ever met on a big project. What may have been ridiculous last second changes to someone else was just another hurdle that Tommy understood needed to be tackled. The most important lesson learned from this experience was to calmly move forward in a project and ensure all parties are updated truthfully. This vibes well with everyone involved because they understand everyone is biting the bullet together. Being honest and nice creates a positive working environment that motivates the team. Co workers appreciate each other’s work and give it their 110% effort. Positivity is what drove the group countless times to move forward strongly with the changes.
Hope gave insightful comments and suggestions throughout my experience. My co-workers were very open minded about my questions and created a comfortable environment for me to expand my learning. Starting off with what was simply resume help transformed into an extended hand on a Wrigley project. My week at Wrigley was coming to an end and it was resonating with me that it had been one of largest projects I have ever been a part of. As I was adding this incredible work experience to my resume, a new email pops up in my mailbox with the subject line, “How about a trip to New York?” The resources I gave in exchange were being appreciated and recognized.