Breaking the Rules

I'm not much of a rule-breaker. I didn't drink before I was 21, I put my blinker on for all my turns, I don't miss deadlines... you get the idea.

But then there are the rules of logic, convention and chance that, well, I have a storied history of not really paying attention to. Thumbing my nose at, actually.

Last semester, I took a sports reporting class. Every couple of weeks, my professor brought in industry professionals to talk to us about what it's like to be a sportswriter/editor/media relations rep/etc. Every one of them, without fail, said the same thing: YOU NEED TO KNOW SOMEONE IN THE INDUSTRY IF YOU WANT TO GET HIRED. (More or less.)

It got pounded into my head all semester. You have to have a contact in the right place to help you get a foot in the door. You won't have a chance of getting a job without knowing the right person. Don't just apply online, they'll never pick your resume out of the bunch. Network, network, network.

Well, I sort of didn't listen. I mean, I heard it and properly panicked and took it into account, but I also scoped out sports job boards, found a bunch of internships, and applied online. Couldn't hurt, right? I got a couple of rejections, which I was totally expecting. But the folks at USA Volleyball emailed me about setting up an interview! Kind of ironic timing, too; I read that email in the press box of Marlins Park moments after receiving one of the panic-inducing lectures I mentioned. I was so relieved I wanted to cry.

So, while it might not be incredibly likely, IT DOES HAPPEN. You CAN apply blind, online, without having a contact, and get asked to interview for the position. Anyone else who was/is as afraid about this as I was, please take note. I swear. You're not screwed if you don't have a contact where you want to work. Apparently something on my resume caught their attention, and if I can do it, you can do it. Seriously.

The interview was quite the experience as well. Let's just say my phone chose an absolutely awful day to glitch and not let calls through, and when it did, the reception in my room was so bad I ended up running around the apartment asking, "Can you hear me now?"

Slick, right?

It was awful. I thought I blew it. But, merciful souls that they are, they didn't just write me off because of my technical difficulties. And after that, I figured that nothing I could say could make things any worse, so the pressure was gone. Either that or the bizarre bonding experience of a dropped call or two completely broke the ice, because once the interview actually started, I was super confident. I mean, I was prepared and really wanted the job so I knew what to say and didn't have to fake anything, but I think my malfunctioning phone actually worked in my benefit. I hung up feeling pretty optimistic about the whole thing.

Lo and behold, the two people on the other end of that mess of a phone call are now my bosses and are sending me to Reno at the end of the month to cover boys' junior national championships for a week and a half.

Probably not the traditional path to employment, but I'll take it!

So, why am I writing this? Honestly, if it can make any recent college graduate feel better about the job search, I'd be thrilled. And hey, once my internship ends I'm going to need to do this all again, so if I can make my future self feel better, that's cool too.

Basically, if someone tells you, "you HAVE to do it like this" or something equally as stifling, don't listen. But I'm not claiming to know it all -- far from it, in fact. I'm totally making up my life as I go along.

But if I'd listened every time someone told me something like that, I would never have tried out for Endurance, volunteered for London 2012 Ceremonies, interned for USA Volleyball, lived at the Olympic Training Center... I mean, should I continue? The best things I've ever done in my life have come from an Adam Savage quote; "I reject your reality and substitute my own."

And in my reality, rules are meant to be broken.

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