Chapter 1: Finding Focus
I entered college knowing exactly what I thought I wanted to study. Like many, I left college pursuing a very different path and preparing for a very different career than I had imagined. Subsequently, I earned a professional degree from UVM (a M.Ed.) and was on track for a career in higher education. Working with college-aged students in an educational setting was a dream come true.
Chapter 2: Trying Something New
Fast-forward almost 6 years: I yearned to keep growing and learning, to hone my skills and gain more professional responsibilities. One day I stumbled upon a part-time position planning and marketing for the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival. It seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up – a part-time position which would allow me to test new professional waters, meet a new community in Vermont and put my event planning and marketing skills to work in a new setting. Not to mention: Vermont cheese.
Chapter 3: Making New Connections
I applied, interviewed and was subsequently hired. The work was an enriching diversion from my full time position at UVM – it offered me a new context in which to grow and introduced me to some of the most amazing food entrepreneurs in the state. While working for the Cheesemakers of Vermont, I was unwittingly building a new network. This network consisted of farmers, producers, and marketing professionals. Six months later I was recruited by one of these contacts – Vermont Creamery – to manage their marketing program full time.
While I wouldn’t recommend working 60+ hour weeks across two jobs, my experience highlights the many forms networking can assume. Working a part time job, volunteering, or informational interviewing are all ways that networking can happen. The past year and a half has taken me to new places, pushed me to grow quickly and ultimately charted a path for a career I love and never could have previously imagined. Networking opened the door.
Most career journeys require one-part focus, one-part flexibility, and three-parts people. Follow your interests, bring your authentic self, and you never know what might unfold.