Landing my Camp Reality internship at Stone Ward has been the greatest thing to happen to me right out of college. I feel lucky to be a part of Stone Ward. However, getting the internship wasn’t because of luck. It wasn’t because I just happened to be chosen. It was a combination of my dedication to networking and my drive to be great at what I do.
Networking is work. Networking isn’t just liking an ad agency page. It isn’t adding people you know on LinkedIn. It isn’t just keeping in contact on social media with people you go to school with or work with. It’s the effort and time put in to get people to really notice (and care about) who you are.
I really got into gear with networking after winning first place at NWA Startup Weekend 2013. I originally went to just talk to people, pass my business card around, and leave. I ended up staying to compete. That decision to put in some extra work and compete was invaluable to my network, not to mention awesome because my team and I won the event.
After realizing how much networking you need to have in the startup space, I began realizing that I needed to apply the same work ethic towards my networking to land a graphic design job. I took the position of President of our Graphic Design association at school. I went to every graphic design event I could, sacrificing my college budget along the way. I made personal effort to talk to and become close to professionals in the field, not only in my college town, but all across the state. This eventually led me to be in a position where I was known around the community for graphic design, coaching and mentoring at Startup Weekend 2015, and landing my internship at Stone Ward.
But the work doesn’t stop at networking. I had to be good at what I do. The hard work and passion I put towards design helped set me apart from the other applicants. I don’t design just have a paycheck at the end of the day. I work to design a better world. If I had just networked my way around and didn’t put out the work that was expected, that wouldn’t take me anywhere. On the flip side, if I never networked but still had a great portfolio, I wouldn’t be where I am today, either, because few if any industry connections would know about me, who would even have an opportunity to decide if they cared or not.
This realization is what drove me to network and be great at what I do. This trust I worked for and earned is what got me to where I am today and where I will be in the future. Though I feel lucky to be where I am today in my career, I know it’s more than luck: it’s networking and skill. No rabbit feet necessary.