After I was published in the Wall Street Journal Blog, several readers commented on my laments about becoming an adult and the strife in landing the role I wanted. A few commented that my efforts to attract a unfamiliar recruiter/employer through emailed resumes and cover letters was a flawed attempt; the reader continued that it's through networking that interested candidates can get their foot in the door, not through flooding inboxes. When I saw the comment, I wasn't surprised. I knew that the zillions of cover letters and resumes I'd tailored for countless jobs more than likely were never even opened, but I kept falling back on the comfortable excuses that I'm new to San Francisco; I'm not from here; I don't know anyone. Well, then the answer was simple: I needed to meet someone.
When I first moved to San Francisco, I had to build my social circle from scratch. I didn't have a single friend that lived in the city. I waited to happen across friends, clinging to the few connections I had made early on through alumni associations and work, yet still feeling like I needed to meet more people to satisfy my extrovert tendencies. Finally I forced myself to pull my nose out of books and join some sports teams: soccer, softball and flag football. I didn't know the other players on the team and was a "free agent" responder to Craig's List Want Ads for extra players. Not only did joining the sports teams fill up my calendar with healthy activities, but I met some of my now closest friends and made this city transform from a "current location" to home. So when it came to getting my career settled, why wasn't I doing the same thing?
I decided to take action: I joined the local chapter of Public Relations Society of America. Tonight was my first PRSA event, hosted across the bay in Oakland. It's not too often I spend my evenings in Oakland, and even rarer that I dare to brave rush hour traffic across the Bay Bridge. Despite the draw of taking an evening to finally have time to jog across Crissy Field and prepare for my weekend trip, I opted to forge through the stampede of cars escaping across the bridge to the sunshine of the East Bay.
Upon arrival I realized I was much younger than all of the other professionals: JACK POT. The best thing about being the lone young buck in a networking event is that you stick out. Not only that, but with age comes more experience, more connections and a higher likelihood that they want to help. I ordered a small glass of Chardonnay and began my circling around the room hunting for a wandering eye that I could pray on to strike up a conversation. At the end of the night, I'd grabbed a few cards and left with more hope and inspiration than I'd felt in a long time. I couldn't fight the smile on my face and even felt tempted to dance along with the drunk homeless man bouncing along to his own silent music.
I know I'd previously written that I felt there were blatant signs proving that change was eminent, but two months later, I still haven't secured a plan that speaks to my ambitions. Yet tonight, as I pulled out of the parking garage, satisfied and exuberant with the connections made at the networking event I saw this sign:
Perhaps I'll still be working this same job next month, and the following and the following... maybe nothing will fall into place in the immediate future; however, I finally stopped waiting to make the left turn. I stopped complacently allowing myself to accept the rules of the road. I stopped looking for shortcuts. Tonight, for the truly first time, I started making the turns that will take me to where I want to be.