Is it who or what you know?
When we search for a job or an internship, when we apply to college and graduate school, when we are trying to get a spot in that club or honorary, we would like to think that those in charge are focused on what we bring to the table. Chances are, however, that if you know someone who can help you in one of these organizations, it’s going to mean just as much as your qualifications. We live in a world of connections and networking, where the question of who you know dominates the seemingly unimportant factor of what you know. As a sophomore looking for a job in New York City, for example, there is very little on your resume that’s going to impress. Obviously there are the wunderkind exceptions, but let’s put the overachievers aside because this is a column for the people by a person.
Should we be concerned that so much of our future could be determined by our connections or our parents’ connections? Should we spend more time going out and on Facebook so that we can meet people, rather than hitting the books rigorously? Should there be a class on networking? My answer to these questions is no. Despite all the evidence stacked against true knowledge as a solid asset, I really believe that it’s necessary in your professional and social lives. A connection is great way to get in the door, and yes, networking is critical once you are in that door, yet a connection can only do so much. Granted, it will certainly help you get that internship, or get a spot in that honorary, but once you are in, you have to prove that you belong there. Unless you’re the boss’s son or daughter, chances are you’re not going to stick around very long if you can’t pull your own weight.
The upper hand that this inroad to success may give you is a two-way street. Not only do you have to prove that you are worthy, but your performance also reflects on the generous soul who stuck his or her neck out for you. Your credibility is directly related to that of your connection, and if you stink, you can pretty much guarantee that the person responsible for your position will get a mouthful.
Achieving success (success here is a relative term, mainly relating to whether or not you are gainfully employed over the summer) is dependent upon a delicate balance of intelligence and the relationships you have made. It is reliant upon both whom you know and what you know. That connection certainly makes the odds of initial success greater, but you have to impress once you’re there. In all reality, I would read this column with a grain of salt, since I still don’t have an internship this summer. All I can really say for certain is that I think it will all be O.K. Maybe.