Apr 142011
Authors: Chadwick Bowman

I have worked in a variety of fields for some honest and some dishonest bosses. Some of these jobs I offered my services for free by way of internships. For others, I offered my services for very little pay.

Finding work and making connections is like taking advice –– tread lightly.

I hesitate to take advice from some because of hidden intentions, but I listen to my Dad, always, and I listen to my lawyer, sometimes. I listen to both my mentor and my advisor –– both named Mike coincidentally, and both give eerily similar advice about women.

Some of my employers claimed that working for them would eventually pay dividends, but that turned out to not be the case. Some employers make it clear from the onset that I am expendable. I have grown to resent the former and loathe the latter.

However, the low-level positions and internships create possibilities to network.

I can’t speak for earlier days, but I do know we live in an era where networking is king. To me, networking is all about understanding motives. I, for one, have ulterior motives in almost every scenario –– which is disconcerting –– but so do most of the people I meet.

But having an agenda is not about being opportunistic; it’s more about using the opportunities well.

It’s a game, and the quicker I understood that others also play the game, the quicker I learned that when asking, “What do you do?” really meant, “How can you help me?”

I learned it’s not who I know, it’s who does this person who I know, know.

Networking does not trump hard work, it enhances it.

I found that internships can be beneficial if you’re willing to do the work and learn from the right people. The professionals –– not the occasional Collegian reader who reads a column about the Trailhead and thinks it’s trash –– can actually help.

Experience will trump both hard work and networking. The trick is to leverage your hard work and networking skills to gain experience.

I network with people who can network well and have had a long conversation about how barroom networking will always beat online networking.

But today even the best barroom networker has to have adequate online networking skills.

Networking and taking advice are essential skills to those of college age.

In a country where tuition rates skyrocket, debt mounts and jobs are few, I must rely on my god-given skill: talking.

I no longer live this illusion that those I work for have my best intentions at heart, but that doesn’t mean I have theirs either.

Some people might call it selfish … I call it networking.

Editorial Editor Chadwick Bowman is a senior sociology and journalism major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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