Before I knew what connecting was, it got me a job. The Spring of my Freshman year I saw a post on the Student Government Facebook page. They were looking for students to meet, and give feedback on, an applicant for the new Executive Director of the Career Initiative. I wasn’t even sure what the position was, but I felt guilt guide me to type, “I can make it!”
The applicant’s name was Carly Nelson, and she had to interact with students as part of the interview process. She told us her story, painted her vision of vocation, and answered student questions. Her composure impressed me and her authenticity captured all of my attention. As she listened to our questions, she seemed to internalize them. Her answers were articulated perfectly; they pulled out patterns from the questions and made them evident to everyone. On my review for the selection committee, I raved about her ability to speak, and to listen.
Once she got the job, I wanted to welcome her to campus. The first two times I tried to visit her she was out of the office in meetings. The third time, she came out of her office and gave me a hug. Then she took the time to ask me what ideas I had for the Career Center. After talking for about ten minutes, she said, “You need to work here.”
I have been working in the Career Center for seven months now. This job was not one I was looking for. I fell into it simply because I wanted to connect with Carly Nelson. It was a connection which significantly changed the direction of my future.
In a similar way, Leann Wolff changed the direction of the conversations I had been having. Luckily, I connected with Leann five minutes before the end of the Prep U Luncheon. When I told her that I had just changed my major to English, she immediately starting directing me. She rattled off the names of book titles, and as I scrambled to write them all down, I was struck by her confidence and her composure. Our conversation was brief, but the impression she made was lasting. I wanted to have a longer conversation with her, and she agreed to get coffee with me at Moxie Java.
Over one cup of coffee, I learned an incredible amount from Leann. She taught me how to make simple rules and take little steps, and shared how she used them in her own life. Her determination inspired me, but she gave me more than just inspiration. As she taught me about mission, values and culture, I formed a platform for future conversations. Beyond that, she took the time to connect me with people she thought I would hit it off with – incredible people that I loved meeting with. In fact, I doubt I would be writing this if Leann hadn’t suggested I start blogging.
Leann went out of her way to give me the tools to succeed, much like Carly went out of her way to get me a job. They both gave me direction, and I will always be grateful for that. I still look up to them, and I still go to them for advice.
A few weeks ago I asked Carly what I should look for in a mentor. She said look for someone whose abilities you want to gain and for someone you think shares your values. I laughed and told her she had just described herself.
When you are connecting, reach out to those people you admire – those people you want to be like. The worst they can say is no, and if they take the time to meet with you, that connection may just change the direction of your life.
Written By: Career Peer Ahna
Let us know what you think! Who do you admire? Are you actively trying to form and maintain connections? If not, why not!