In one of my meetings earlier today, a colleague mentioned that she writes down her personal and professional goals at the beginning of each week because it helps her stay accountable to them. I want to use this blog to hold me accountable to my desire to contribute to a meaningful project or field.
So, like the government puts out a “jobs” report, here’s mine (based on one of my areas of focus for 2019).
This past month, I spent most of my exploration time looking at what options are out there for people to learn how to both find jobs and also be good at them.
Here are some of the best resources I found:
- TED talks, mostly inspiration (my favorite) but some concrete
- Google Job Search (it’s helped 100M people so far)
- YouTube videos
- Apps to find a career coach like Whizor
- A real career coach (mine for several years)
However, where I have seen and experienced the most potential for career growth is my personal alumni or work networks. Utilizing the Cornell alumni network helped me get my first exposure to a VP when I joined Google. David Fischer and I set up a 1:1 when I joined Google, which I probably only had the guts to do so because I knew we went to the same school. He helped me think through my career at Google and become more passionate about the company. Another Cornell alum helped me think through my decision to go to business school. A Googler from my time launching Google Fiber introduced me to Brad Burnham who hired me at Union Square Ventures. The list goes on and on.
The point, unsurprisingly, is that I only got to where I am due to the network I had (what I wrote one of my admissions essays about). And, I don’t think it needed to be a Cornell or Harvard network that got me there, but I do believe that, at the moment, prestigious schools and workplaces tend to leverage their networks more.
This is a problem I think we can solve. How can we get more students in all types of universities and colleges to leverage their alumni networks more and get more help from others?
There are two elements to this problem (as there are in many problems that I think we can solve with the internet). (1) Literacy in the subject. We need to help people understand why and how to use their networks. Show them evidence of what it can do and why it’s important. (2) Build easier ways for alumni or current members of a network to identify him or herself as willing to help and make it extremely easy for current students or alumni to leverage these connections.
LinkedIn did a great job partially solving (2); however, as we learn in diversity trainings, for better or worse, people are more likely to help people they see as similar to them. So, you may get better quality help / responses from those people you share something in common with.
Harvard Business School makes it quite easy to see which alumni want to help others and, in my experience, with a well thought out email, most alumni will reply to a request for help. However, in my preliminary research many other schools have not yet built this out as robustly which, I believe, is a mistake. Something so simple could really improve outcomes for a university population.
This post is getting long. So, what’s my next step? I want to spend some time talking to universities about their current efforts and goals to better understand if there’s a simple database and front end that could assist them in this effort. And, understand what education they do for students around the importance of networking. I’ll provide a second “jobs” report on that soon.