Have you ever thought about that? Those people that were there in your career that helped you take the next step? Or maybe helped you get your start… the ones that stuck out their necks for you and took a chance. The ones that became your biggest advocate? Those individuals I am referring to are, what I like to call, “The Unsung Heroes of Your Career”. They are the ones that are there for you waiting to answer questions, help you build your contacts, and encourage you when times get tough. These people rarely get the glory from anything they do but it is these people that I truly admire. I have decided it is these people that understand life. They are the ones that are paying it forward because they know that someone once did it for them. They are selfless, knowing good and well their help will not increase their wealth, status or sales. They do it for us, the young ins. Those of us just out of college trying to make a name for ourselves in the industry. And for that I have to say THANK YOU.
I have several “Unsung Heroes” in my career. Too many to mention in one blog post but they have crossed my path is different ways and in different industries. Their impact on my life goes well beyond this post. Terri was my first “hero” out of college. She is one of the top production designers in the Twin Cities. I knew very little about the film industry when I started but knew I was interested in props and sets. So I began to research the art department around the area. I found her contact information and emailed her out of the blue one day. Never spoke a word to her before that… I was a complete stranger. She got back to me within a day or two with encouraging words about my interest in the industry. We played email tag for a little over a year while I finished college in Wisconsin. It wasn’t until a year after we had met via email, Terri and I worked together for the first time. I will never forget that first Fingerhut commercial. I showed up to find the most humble, caring, and helpful woman I have ever met. She answered all my questions, showed me the ropes, and gave advice when needed. She never made me feel inferior, dumb for asking silly questions or incompetent to the new skills I was trying to learn. She just guided, trained and educated me on everything I would need to know by sharing her experiences with me.
Since that very first commercial, Terri and I have worked together on many shoots over the last two years. We have built a friendship that will go well beyond our work together in the industry. Our friendship is truly a blessing and something I encourage all of you to seek out with your own “heroes”.
It seems these days the old saying” It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” is more prevalent than ever. The job market is tough and people are one of hundreds, if not thousands applying for the same position. So how do you separate yourself from the pack? How is it that people are hired without tough application processes or even without interviews? It all boils down to who you know.
So how do you get to know them? How do you find these connections? I am asked these questions a lot, and to be honest the answer I have found is quite simple.
Email them. Call them. Facebook message them. Whatever form of communication you can use and when you do that… follow up with them. Stick your neck out and maybe one day they will return the gesture. Accept the word NO and rejection, it’s going to happen often. AND THAT’S ALRIGHT. I have a list of disappointments as long as my list of triumphs but at the end of the day those “disappointments”, emails I have never heard back from and voicemails that have never been returned are all a part of my journey and make me, well… me! And I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Now, don't get me wrong. My journey has not been all daisies and roses. There have been struggles, confusions, and conflict. Just because a hero opens a door doesn't mean it stays open. YOU make the door stay open. By working hard, having a willingness to learn and always striving to be your best. Show them what you got and they will keep you around. Only the good workers, work.
If I could sum up this encouragement in 3 main points here is what I would like to say:
1. Reach out and network. Do your research, ask around and dig deep. You will find what you are looking for if you look hard enough. Don’t be afraid of someone’s job title or status. If you want to be mentored by a president of a company because you find their work interesting… contact them… you can’t win if you don’t try… right?!
2.Once you recognize these “heroes” in your life… praise them, thank them and make sure they know you appreciate what they do for you. Because remember they get nothing out of this that will further their career, status, or wealth. So the least you can do for them is show your gratitude and make it apparent you are truly thankful.
3.And thirdly, I encourage all of you to become one. When you are ready and feel you can return the favor… be available to those who reach out to you. I have placed this opportunity on my bucket list and hope that one day I can be a “hero” to someone else.
Happy networking! Until next time…
The Uncommon Team