The keys to the doors that you need open are in other peoples’ pockets. It’s up to you to build the relationships needed to open the doors.
– Michael Roderick
Before graduating from college, Ashley Stahl had a team of mentors to help coach and guide her career. She dreamed big and wanted nothing less than to land her dream job straight out of college. That millennial dream came true when she walked into the U.S. Pentagon for her dream job in foreign affairs.
Long before crossing the commencement stage to get her degree, Ashley did something many millennials don’t know to do. She built up her team of mentors and asked for advice whenever possible.
Instead of waiting to start her career after graduation like many students do, Ashley began her career with one cup of coffee and a conversation to build up her network.
One particular mentor really helped Ashley out. A colonel in the U.S. Armed Forces offered advice to Ashley and introduced her to key people who were able to help Ashley land her dream job.
Ashley left her career in foreign affairs after the puffy white clouds of her dream job dissipated. She began feeling like a cog in a bureaucratic engine, and has continue to rely on mentorship and coaching to break career barriers and rise above plateaus. She’s gone on to start up a successful coaching business, writes for Forbes, and has spoken on stage at TED.
Asking a mentor for help and networking, however, seems to be something many millennials are uncomfortable doing, especially if they come from the struggling working class.
A study by Jessica McCrory Calarco found that whether or not a student asks for help depends on his/her background. Working class students tend to ask for help far less than middle-class students.
This behavior can continue into adulthood when some struggling mid-career professionals ask for help and others shy away from it.
Like Ashley discovered early on in college, one person’s extraordinary success has an iceberg effect: what you see as the tip of success has a mountain of mentors underneath it.