The Power of Networking

The Power of Networking

By: Shauna Mercer
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As Communication students, we learn a lot about networks—a group or system of interconnected people or things. Universities offer dozens of networking events throughout the year, encouraging students to mingle with potential employers. I, personally, have not attended a single one. My outlook on networking used to be simple—if I was going to get a job, I wanted to know I got it because I proved myself. That I performed excellently during the interview and the company decided I was perfect for the role, not because we had mingled over beers or BBQ chicken previously, but because I was good. 

When I began searching for an internship the semester prior to applying for a Co-op, I had friends and family who were eager to help me, telling nearly everyone they knew that I was searching for an internship and asking whether there were any good opportunities out there. I hated it—I wanted to get a job because I deserved it, not because of a connection. So, when my mom came home from our family chiropractor with his brother’s business card, I left it sitting on my desk, collecting dust as I continued to search elsewhere for an appropriate internship.

When I went to my chiropractor a month later, he asked why I had never contacted his brother—the COO of one of the largest financing corporation in Canada. I explained my mentality—I wanted to get a job because I deserved it. My chiropractor said to me, “Your parents help you pay for school, right?” Confused, I responded “Yes.” 

“Well, just because they pay for your education doesn’t mean they’re doing the work. They’re just paying the bills, you’re the one who is studying and persevering—if your GPA drops, you’ll get academic probation and have to leave SFU. It’s the same thing with this opportunity—I am the introduction, but trust me, if my brother doesn’t like you, you will not be hired, and if you are hired but are not proving yourself, you won’t last there. Past the introduction, I have no leverage over you or your work ethic. You will need to prove yourself from that point.”

That day when I got home, I contacted his brother. After numerous phone calls and interviews, I was hired into an Accounting Summer Internship at Travelers Finance. Then, when the semester was coming to a close and I began applying for Co-op positions, my company asked me what kind of jobs I was applying for. I explained that I was most interested in Human Resources and Marketing, and that afternoon they offered me a Fall semester Co-op in which I would be able to put my Marketing and Human Resources skills to use. I am now finishing up my Fall semester, I have been offered yet another Co-op work term with the company, and they are constantly telling me that they are keeping a close eye on me for post-graduation.

I absolutely adore the company I am currently working for. I know that if I had continued being stubborn and ignoring the usefulness of networking I would not have gained the knowledge and experience I acquired throughout these past eight months, and will hopefully continue to gain for many years to come, with Travelers Finance.

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Posted on January 09, 2015