“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” Francis Bacon
At first glance this is a standard quote. However, the point Bacon made runs much deeper with me.
Many students at Loughborough University will currently be filling in graduate applications, doing online tests and travelling across the country to have interviews with a prospective employer. The task is arduous and it would not take long to find a tweet that describes the time, effort and stress caused by the process.
As I wrote in my previous column, the majority of top graduate jobs will go to those with at least a 2:1 and ‘extras’, whether that means involvement in Union societies and clubs and/or valuable work experience.
Although all of this could and should lead to a decent job, there is always that person who ‘knows’ someone in the business. They usually get a lucky break with work experience or something because of the connection. Is it a problem that we should accept? I don’t like it. However, there is not much you can do about it.
Despite what Nick Clegg and David Cameron say about social mobility and their commitment to meritocracy, I would argue that to change this ‘tradition’ would take such a long time, its unlikely ever to affect us. So what can we connection-lacking majority do about it?
Firstly, as The Guardian puts it, ‘talent, hard work and commitment’ can get you immensely far in this day and age. It doesn’t matter how well connected you are, once you get the job you won’t stay in it long if you’re lazy, do the bear minimum and/or are incompetent.
University certainly gives you a unique opportunity to do the adequate networking. Loughborough University is actually very good at putting you in contact with the right people.
An example is this weekend, with the Media Centre organising what can essentially be described as an exceptional opportunity for ‘networking’ with some of the best bods in the business, for those who want to get into the media industry.
Secondly, sites like Linkedin have enabled many young graduates/professionals network and engage with people who can help them get a job and meet people who can assist in career progression.
The Internet has certainly enabled many to get to places they were originally unable to reach purely because it gives those unconnected a platform from which to showcase talent and expertise.
I would like to bring the point back to my original quote. Opportunity is undoubtedly easier to come by if you know someone in the business; someone who you can have a dialogue with and take advice from.
But the game is also changing; opportunity can be created for those who work hard and build their own connections and I would argue their future foundations are stronger.
I’m a true believer in opportunists. But to call them that could misconstrue what I mean and not do justice the real time and effort these people put in.
The majority of us will get to university and have a vague idea of what we want to do with our lives. Some will figure that out as they go.
I happen to think that whether you know what you want to do or you don’t is irrelevant. Putting yourself out there in anyway shape or form is the key.
Engaging with possible employers during your time at university might seem daunting at first, but if you’re committed and hard working this can put you in a great position when you leave.
You don’t have far to look at Loughborough to find the opportunists. The place is full of them.
All it comes down to is how much you do. Essentially, the more you want it and the harder you work, the better chance you’ll have at getting where you want. I guarantee.
Do nothing. Expect nothing.