I recently had a two week work experience placement as a production assistant/runner at a pretty good company (Yay Me). During my time there the team I was working with kept telling me to find a chance to speak to this one woman.
I know the industry is all about networking and being forward with what you want, but I still find the whole procedure a little… untoward. Now I am far from shy, but the idea of going up to someone I don’t know – or have only been introduced to once – and asking for favours seems pushy to me. Perhaps I need to break out of my 1800’s traditions and get with the times.
So I managed to find some time at the end of my first week to go and talk to her, but I caught her just as she was leaving so it was all very awkward. She suggested very kindly I come and see her on Monday, and that was that.
The woman is always very busy so I dropped her an email on Monday morning asking her to let me know when she was free and I could come by for a chat. My email went unanswered all week. The way I saw it; I (allegedly) needed her more than she needed me, however, I did have other responsibilities than running up to check she was at her desk every five minutes. After some prompting from a number of people on my team (who kept asking if I’d spoken to her yet) I finally made my way up on my last day. I won’t lie, part of me hoped I wouldn’t find her, and I was lucky that when I got up to her desk it was empty. However there were people around who told me to stay, insisting she would be right back – and eventually she was.
She told me that I always come and see her last minute, and I smiled politely, biting my tongue before I threw a sarcastic comment about her inability to check and respond to her email (I know I know, I’m a terrible person). I told her what I was interested in doing and that I had enjoyed my time at the company and would like to stay on if anything arose. She told me to follow her, and I did as she led me to the woman who was taking the general applications for the Office Runner position that had recently opened up. I was to send her my email asap as the application window was closing very soon, then she sent me on my way.
There are no words. Well I suppose there are; disappointment, waste of time, generic, am I an idiot thought.
My point is that she didn’t listen to a single thing that I said. She wanted me to apply for a job that I didn’t want and knew I wouldn’t get due to my lack of experience. Perhaps it was because I caught her on a Friday afternoon, but everyone had talked her up so much that in my mind she was fully of advice and wisdom and would at least give me the email address of someone I could get into contact with to help me on my next step. But no. The advice she gave me was generic and impersonal. Maybe if I was on the fence about what I wanted to do then I would have clung to her advice like gospel and applied. But I know what it is that I want to get into, and even if I had applied and gotten the role, it would have completely derailed me.
Everyone said she was the go too gal, that she could help, that she would be a great person to have a relationship with. But the only thing that came out of our conversation was the realisation that everyone was wrong about her – at least in relation to me, and that was okay. Because at the end of the day I learnt something about myself; I had conviction and I had faith that turning away from her advice was the right thing to do.