Christy attended a small liberal arts college in Virginia.  After graduating with a degree in multidisciplinary studies, and studying arts management and dance, she worked at a local cultural arts center as a receptionist and administrative assistant doing marketing and guest relations.  But her heart called her to New York City to pursue a career in arguably the arts center of the world.  She was both excited and nervous to make the move but knew that with hard work and bright ideas she could be successful!

She was luckily able to stay with her sister who lived in Manhattan while getting settled and embarking on the job search.  One of the first things she did was call and email people with whom she had interacted while in school.  She had worked in the school’s performing arts venue and had a few friends from there that had since relocated to NYC.  Christy’s former manager at the theatre had also offered to refer her to some of her colleagues in the industry so she pursued those connections too.   She also began researching job opportunities online, familiarizing herself with industry trends, and learning about how she might best fit into an organization.  Her networking consisted not of asking for “jobs” but of asking for “advice.”  She knew that it made sense to approach it that way instead of being too bold and expecting too much from people she barely knew.  Soon after meeting and conducting informational interviews with different professionals from multiple facets of the industry, she started to pursue actual job openings.  These conversations she had with people who understood her interests and perspective, also helped her narrow her focus to working in a corporate/for-profit environment vs. in-house/non-profit settings and which types of jobs for which she would most likely fit.  Before too long, those relationships she formed started to turn into trusted confidantes, and these people started to reach out to her when they learned of openings and she landed some interviews.  She didn’t turn down any leads that were remotely related to the field as she knew each person she met was a new connection and that would only help her career.

Finally after just a few short months, Christy got a call about an opening that turned out to be the perfect match for her skills, education, and preferences and accepted the position.  It was a Marketing Assistant at a university’s performing arts center in NYC, and her direct supervisor was someone she knew from the similar position she had held in college.  This job turned into a successful 5-year tenure marked by multiple promotions and new friends.

It really is true that networking works.  Just ask Christy!  She gave a lot of effort to her job search and focused on building rapport to create lasting connections that came through for her in a big way.  You can make networking work for you too – you just have to commit to it and approach it as a 2-way street.  Join SPS Career Services as we welcome a guest presenter, career expert Arlene Newman, at next Wednesday’s “Networking Like a Pro” workshop and get started!

Shannon Gallo is the Manager of Career Services at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. When she’s not helping others achieve their career dreams, she’s cheering on the West Virginia Mountaineers.

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