When we think about people that can help us advance in our careers, often someone well-established in our own field comes to mind. Someone who may be a mentor to us, and someone we aspire to be like. Because of that, many people are quick to burn bridges with their peers or friends that work in different fields. A big career mistake is to talk behind the backs of others, and to assume that just because the person you’ve alienated isn’t in your industry, that you’re home free.
It is important to stay connected with colleagues, classmates, and peers, even if you end up going in separate directions in your careers. Just because someone isn’t where you want to be, doesn’t mean they don’t have important connections that can help you in the future. (And that you can’t help them in the future).
Sometimes those relationships are even more important than relationships in your own field. Often times they can lead to connections and resources that you wouldn’t have or even know where to find otherwise. Also, if someone knows you’re a competent person, a hard worker, and great to be around, they are likely to tell you about opportunities they hear about. That could be from their own work life or even from their own family members or acquaintances who may be in your field.
For example, I once told a group that I volunteer with about a job opportunity at my job, and one of them applied and got the job. This job wasn’t externally posted, the only way she could have known about it was through me. Having those connections and making sure you are fostering those relationships is beneficial.
The flip side of that is that you must always remember to be positive, be the best worker you can be, and treat people with respect. I once worked with a guy who was lazy, constantly demanded raises, and whose work I was constantly finishing because he would be taking repeated excessive breaks throughout his shift. He took advantage of the fact that I would do that, which I found disrespectful. A few years later, my roommate was a hiring manager for another organization. He applied to a job there, and when she looked at his resume, she saw that he had worked in the same place that I had. When she asked me about him, I told her the truth, and that she should avoid hiring him. She said to me she was considering calling him for an interview until she spoke with me, and because of our conversation, he never got the call. You never know when the people you work with, hang out with, or go to school with, will be connected with the person doing the hiring decisions.
**Watch a video of me drawing this comic below**