A Life Lesson in networking to get what you want

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One of the most pivotal times of my life was my internship with BT, the composer. I learned a great deal during that internship, but in retrospect, as a professional project manager today, the greatest lesson and achievement was landing the internship more so than the internship itself. It was a true venture into the unknown beginning with step one.

After making the decision to purse the internship, I knew that I essentially had to make my own way in because there weren’t any applications or listings of any internship positions publically posted. So, for guidance, I turned to Mr. Sanchez, an adjunct professor of music business. I asked him for help with networking because I knew he believed in me. He told me, “Sure I can help you, but I won’t. Basically, I’ll tell you what I tell my music business students. Not only will I not provide you with any contact information, I’ll give you a five day deadline to meet your goal. That way, you’ll never have to rely on someone like me to provide you contacts. You’ll learn how to get them yourself.” I accepted the challenge.

First step I came up with was to start with any contact information for BT I could find to proverbially weasel my way in. I found an e-mail address to his webmaster in some little print at the bottom of his website. So, I composed an e-mail to the webmaster with my intentions. I heard back within a day that he had forwarded my e-mail to BT’s manager. That manager forwarded my information to BT’s personal assistant who was vetting all of the applicants. Apparently, I was one of about a hundred applicants, which amazed me because there was no public portal to submit applications.

Then, one day about a week later, his assistant called my cell phone, the very first cell phone I ever owned, a flip phone with a black & white LCD screen. She told me where to e-mail her my resume. A few days after that, I got another call from her stating that I was a candidate of interest but that I would need a place to live in Los Angeles in order to be considered. So she flat out asked if I had a place because the internship would be unpaid. I had no clue what I would do for a dwelling, but due to my nativity, I thought that securing a dwelling must be a minor obstacle, so without any hesitation I replied, “Sure, I’ll find a place to stay. No problem.” Being from a small town, I had no idea that this could potentially be a problem in the city of Los Angeles.

Later when I talked with her in person, she said she was impressed with my confidence that I would secure a place to stay, but my confidence only stemmed from the fact that my desire to land this internship was so great that I would not let a common obstacle, like a dwelling, prevent me from pursuing my dream. A week or so later, BT called me himself, and I was a little star struck talking to my hero. But I think I stayed rather professional and asked how to best prepare myself for the internship, which was basically reading all of the manuals cover to cover for the software he uses.

That’s how a dream came true for me and learned how to network better. I found a place to stay. A friend subleased a room to me. I worked for BT for free for 11 weeks during summer of 2003. The internship came and went. But I still remember the most how Mr. Sanchez helped me grow by not helping me but my challenging me. I’ll never forget it because today, I would never be afraid to have the audacity to find contact anybody with whom I want to do business, even if that person is difficult to contact.

Since the internship, I’ve lost touch with BT, but when he tours, I still try to get in for free to his shows, so I’ll do the same tactics. I’ll look up the tour manager and try to contact them. After all, their contact information is plastered all over the net as they try to network themselves. I have successfully gotten myself on his guest list every time, with no direct help of BT’s to my knowledge. Sometimes when one encounters a “no,” one must continue to plow ahead.

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