It’s not who you know, it’s who gets to know you

My first job out of college was a nightmare. The job was so bad that I quit without having another job to go to–not that I would advocate doing that, especially in today’s environment. I promptly signed up with a local temp agency and was placed immediately to cover vacation leave for an administrative assistant at a local pharmaceutical company.

On this assignment, I worked for a vice president who, once my assignment was over with him, referred me to the legal department upstairs where I quickly found a home as the permanent administrative assistant to a lawyer in the mergers and acquisitions group.

Why am I telling you this? Making that move was THE most important decision in my recruiting career that I ever made because I ended up working for an attorney named Bill who would set me along my path to where I am today.

Through my work with students in the past, I often heard them say, “That’s not the job I want to do for the rest of my life.” Guess what? Your first job out of college will not be your last. It also will not be the perfect job. But you have to start somewhere, so how do you know whether a job is for you? Look at it like a spider web–how will it branch out? What different directions can it take you in? How will the people you meet affect the person you are to become?

Take a company like Sodexo, my current home. When I talk to candidates about benefits, sure I go over medical, dental, vision–the items you traditionally consider. But I also talk about the benefit of mobility. It is very possible that a Sodexo employee can start his or her career as a chef in a hospital in New York and retire with us 20 years later overseeing the entire food operations at a university in Hawaii. Not many companies, especially today, afford the opportunity to employees to take their careers in so many different directions, both geographically and in responsibility.

When I was offered that admin position in the legal department, I saw that it provided me a chance to be part of an exciting and very visible team. I learned about big business through divestitures and purchases. I supported a team that worked very closely with all the executives; routinely vice presidents, even the CFO, would walk through my area. I was 22 and holding conversations with some very important people, developing a voice in the corporate world. I discovered that I wasn’t intimidated by titles and that my personality and everyday intelligence would be key to where my career would go.

Don’t be quick to discount an opportunity. The right job doesn’t need to be right now but the right opportunity could be right in front of you. Be on the lookout for your own Bill, someone who will see something in you, encourage you to put it to use and, most importantly, will testify to your abilities and help you get that right job.

Bill was a reference for me when I left New Jersey with my new husband, who was in the Navy at the time. I walked into another temp agency to find work and they asked me if I ever considered recruiting. Later, I interviewed with the branch manager and she told me she would be a fool not to hire me. When I asked her why, she responded, “I spoke to Bill for about 45 minutes about you. If you can do what he says you can, you are going to be a great recruiter.”

Thanks Bill.


Michele is a Senior Recruiter for Sodexo, a world leader in quality of daily life solutions that contribute to the progress of individuals and the performance of organizations. As a former assistant director at the University of Maryland University College’s Career and Cooperative Education Center, she’s no stranger to students trying to plan their careers. During that time, she worked with non-traditional college students to gain school credit for on the job work experience. Michele also taught seminars on job searching, resume writing and interview techniques, and partnered with local employers to help students gain employment. At Sodexo, she has continued her interest in shaping student careers by serving as a mentor to an intern in the company’s Future Leaders Program. Michele began her recruitment career in 1999, joining Sodexo in 2008 where she recruits for a range of food, facilities and environmental services positions. Michele holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park (go Terps), is a charter member of a Baltimore area Toastmasters chapter, and a Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) and Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR). When not giggling with her two girls, Michele enjoys writing … and watching the Yankees win, much to the dismay of her husband. Join her on LinkedIn or just Network with Us at Sodexo.

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