An alumnus from 2004 just phoned to tell me about an opportunity for a new rotational program at his company. He met with the manager leading the recruiting effort today and convinced her that she should consider Darden students. He gave me her name and number, and I plan to follow up today.
This alum is no ordinary alum. He’s Venezuelan. He works for a US company that doesn’t hire international students. He graduated in a year when the employment rate at graduation was 68%. He was determined in his second-year job search to find a position in consumer packaged goods. I have never met a student in my five years who so methodically approached the off-Grounds search and who embodied a positive, winning attitude throughout the job search. We met early and often. I remember so clearly his target list of companies and the list of alumni at each. He never gave up on his objective. He landed a position with a major CPG firm, first in a sales/field marketing role. He just told me that last June he was promoted back to headquarters as Senior Manager International Sports Marketing, managing this company’s international sponsorships of professional soccer. His quote to me: “Imagine a Latin American running sponsorships of professional soccer for a major American company. It’s like a dream job.”
I was pleased to receive his call on two levels: one, I really appreciated the lead and his efforts on Darden’s behalf. When we turn this into a full-time recruiting arrangement with this company, he will be the one who deserves the credit. Two, I’m glad he called to tell me about his success at his company. It’s nice to see that I have had an impact in a small way on someone’s life and career. In all of my jobs prior to this one, I could easily see my impact in the marketplace. A1 Steak Sauce, Grey Poupon Mustard, Lunchables Lunch Combinations, Shake n Bake Coating Mix: I can still see my fingerprints in the grocery store every time I go shopping. In this job I find it more difficult to see if I am making an impact. But after five years, I’m beginning to get a little longer-term feedback. Another example: I recently received a copy of an inter-office communication from a leading consulting firm — one of our Darden alumni, Class of 2005, just received a promotion. As I read the email, I was happy for the alum, and I felt a sense of accomplishment for him–and for me. I played a particularly strong hand in helping this alum get this job; I am happy to see him succeed, and it is rewarding to see that my work is starting to make an impact in the world of business.
As I close, I get to the subject: are you making an impact? Recently Darden students held elections for the Class of 2009 class officers. I was excited to see a few very talented students elected to key positions (and also disappointed that some I knew really well did not get elected to the jobs they were seeking). One student in particular, whom I have gotten to know pretty well in the first-year, was seeking a major office and didn’t get it. But days later she emerged in another senior position in which she will have a major impact. As you prepare for your job, summer internship or full time, think about how you are going to make an impact. Companies seek employees that make a difference, that impact their business and the organization. I have found that those employees that have the biggest impact in their jobs early are those that are practiced in the art. These people have been making an impact since kindergarten. Some who bloom later begin making an impact in college and their first jobs. They also come to Darden and have a positive impact here. Then they leave and have an impact in their sphere of influence and many begin leaving a legacy (more on that in a future blog). So, I ask again: are you making an impact now? How are you planning to make an impact in your next role. I’d be happy to discuss this if you’d like to stop by.