by Kent C. Porter '59, Porter Leadership Development
I had no resume and did no networking still I landed the perfect first job in 24 hours.
My approach isn’t the approach, it is just an approach. Read on and ask yourself, “How can I apply this approach to finding a job or to a breakthrough that I’ve been hoping for?”
I’d just graduated from Thunderbird School of Global Management. It didn’t seem there would be many job opportunities for international business in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas, so I chose San Francisco for my career launch.
In San Francisco I crashed on the couch of a school buddy who told me that I had five days free rent.
I knew nothing about finding a job. I did know I had $75.00, five days free rent and a strong sense of urgency.
What happened next was the first in what proved to be a lifelong pattern of being rescued by a thought that just comes to me at the right time. It’s hard to explain, so I’ll go with a God throws me a life line.
The thought was, “Call Thunderbird, ask for the person in charge of fund raising.” I called and asked for the names of companies in San Francisco who contributed to the school.
I was given three names and did a reverse alphabetical sort in case someone else had the same idea; looked up the address of my first choice and showed up the next day.
The elevator door opened to a receptionist. I asked if I could talk to whoever did the hiring. I told her I didn’t have an appointment but I knew the owner contributed to the school that I’d just graduated from.
I chatted with her in a friendly way, telling her why I felt a sense of urgency. I was pleased when she said not to get my hopes up but she’d talk to the head of HR. I was introduced to the head of HR who invited me into his office. He asked about my general interests, summer jobs and education, noting I’d learned Spanish my junior year in Spain and Portuguese at Thunderbird.
He offered me a job saying I could start tomorrow and that all new employees started in the accounting department to get an overview of the business.
My father, who had paid for a portion of my education, could hardly wait for me to get a job, so I called him that night. He said, “You’re about to find out what work is all about. Call me after your first day of real work.”
The following morning I showed up for work. The head of HR met me and told me the owner of the business wanted to see me, that this was unusual, but not to worry, to just listen and make my comments brief.
I walked into a large wood-paneled office decorated with oil paintings on the walls and ceramics throughout. The owner motioned me to sit on a large couch.
He started off with, “I see you like to play golf and that you speak Spanish. I have a favor to ask of you. We do a significant amount of business with Peru. The youngest son of the president of Peru, who is about your age, is making his first visit to the United States.”
“I want him to have a good first impression. Now for the favor. Would you take this young man to Pebble Beach, play a round of golf, buy him anything he wants from the proshop, and then bring him to our house for dinner?”
I was in a state of ‘this is too good to be true’ and smiled because I’d promised my father I’d call him after my first day of work.
Ever the obedient son I said, “Dad, I finished my first day of work at 10:00pm last night.”
He interrupted, “Now you know work isn’t 9 to 5”
I continued, “That is true but I’m reluctant to tell you about the rest of my first whole day.”
My father said, “I want to hear about your entire first day in detail, don’t skip a thing.”
“I won’t. The owner of the business asked me to take the youngest son of the President of Peru to Pebble Beach to play golf. The course is along the ocean. The 100 yard par three signature seventh hole is surrounded by the ocean. When we finished we went to lunch in the elegant dining room; we both had the smoked salmon. Later we went to a lobster dinner at the owner’s home, which is why I didn’t finish work until 10:00pm.”
I relish telling this story because I was taught significant lessons in a most agreeable way. I can only appreciate the key points below in retrospect.
- Urgency is a catalyst
- Be still and expect guiding thoughts
- If it’s a good thought, take action
- Make a good impression on the gate keeper
- Target your job search to where you’ll be a fit
- Leverage your uniqueness
Kent is author of Fix Frustrations at Work available on Amazon. He is a 1959 graduate of Thunderbird School of Global Management.