Things My Parents Were Right About: Making Connections

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Things My Parents Were Right About: Making Connections

My parents, through their years of life experiences, have collected a huge amount of great advice, which they attempted to impart on me when I was a dirt bag teenager. Needless to say, I decided I didn’t need any of their advice because I knew everything and anything in the world. Finally, years later, I realize how right they always were.

Their advice:

The most important thing you can have in your life is lasting, personal connections. Treat every person you interact with, with kindness, because you never know when they could help you in the future. Never burn a bridge that doesn’t need burning, always try to give more than you receive, and don’t be too proud to ask for help when you need it.

Ways I should have listened:

First of all, Mom and Dad, I would like to formally apologize for pretty much all of my behavior between the ages of 12 and 16 years old. I was a smart-mouthed shithead who took you for granted and only wanted to do stupid shit with my friends instead of do anything that would actually help my life. I’ve squandered this advice too many times to count, but here it goes.

I should have made better choices that did not result in me getting suspended for being shitfaced at school my sophomore year of high school. I had multiple teachers who liked me and thought I had potential, and getting dragged out of class by the Vice Principal really ruined any chances I had at using these connections as references on my college apps.

I also definitely should have listened to my parents and asked my friend’s dad, who was the CEO of a teen staffing agency, for a summer job. They told me a million times to talk to him about it since he was a great connection and would have undoubtedly hooked me up, but I didn’t like the idea of asking for help so I blew him off to smoke weed with his son.

I definitely didn’t take this advice during the first half of college where I burned bridges with every colleague and manager I had during any of my jobs, as I quit jobs (sometimes without notice) just because my work schedule interfered with a party or trip I didn’t want to miss.

I also should apologize to my dad for using the phrase “professional connections” several times while selling him on the idea of me pledging a fraternity, and then making zero effort to establish those connections with our alumni base. To be fair, we have zero alumni that work for ad agencies, but they could have referred me to other positions or introduced me to people that could help me, something I didn’t realize at the time.

How I’ve started listening:

Thankfully my parents hammered these words of wisdom non-stop into my thick skull because eventually I started listening. I got my first big boy job a month after graduating college due to my friend hooking me up, and the interviewer being one of the few Delta Gamma alumns with whom I hadn’t burned a bridge with in college. When I quit that job two years later, I did so with a handwritten, personalized note to my boss/mentor, and worked my ass off for the full month of notice I gave. Because in the words of my father, “your reputation is the most valuable thing you can have.” I thanked every person I had worked with for their help and support over the last couple years, and still have contact with several of them today.

I now make it a point to try and be polite and personable to everyone I interact with (assuming they treat me similarly), both in the workforce and out of it. I do my best to help the people in my life when I can, and they have never let me down returning the favor. When I was unexpectedly laid off two months ago, these connections I had made came through, and I had another job within three days, albeit one where I see horrific things on a nightly basis. When I finish up school in a few weeks, I know I have a plethora of professional contacts and friends that will be more than happy to pass my resume along.

This advice is no joke, and I plan on taking it to heart for the rest of my life. As a thank you to my parents for imparting your wisdom on me and not once beating me when I probably deserved it, I will finally offer the three words you’ve been waiting years to hear – you were right.

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