A few years back while was working for a company in the building above Miles grocery, I ran into one of my Aunt’s who suggested to me that the reason I had my job was because I was whiter than her children. This comment is one that has bothered me to this day for while there is little doubt that there may be some companies that are racist and will try to hold you back, not every company is like this. You see, my father always raised me to understand that the only person who can hold you back from achieving your dreams is yourself. There may be many obstacles along the way, but as the great hockey legend Wayne Gretzky once said: "You miss 100% of the shots you never take".
The interesting thing about the job I had that summer was that I did not go looking for it, instead it came to me. Was it the color of my skin that got me the job? Likely this wasn’t the case considering that I sat next to another summer student much darker than me, just as the majority of summer students that year were darker than me. If not that, was it a friend or relative who got me the job? No, neither of those fit either. The most fitting description of how I got that job comes from the words of Benjamin Franklin who said "God helps those who help themselves", for truly, it was my own drive an ambition that landed me that job.
To understand how I had people coming to me looking to hire me as a summer intern, I’ll have to roll back to describing my job searching of the previous year. It was weeks before I was to return to the island for spring break of my first year of University. While I was struck with dedicating time to my midterms, I also decided that I must find myself a job for the summer to help pay for my schooling. So I took it upon myself to do as much research as I could. Being off island, there were limited resources for me to tap into aside from the Internet, so I used it to it’s full potential and came upon a site called Net Link Bermuda, which is better known as the Bermuda Communications Directory.
On this site I found an abundant listing of not only companies in Bermuda, but they were also organized by various categories and supplied contact information, even email addresses for some. I took it upon myself to go through every single category that might be in any way related to what I’d have interest in doing. From each category I looked up each company and recorded their details in an excel spreadsheet.
Upon having compiled a comprehensive list of over 400 companies that I thought I might be able to get a job with, I began work on the most impeccable cover letter and resume I could put together. I spent hours toiling over it to ensure that it would give the best first impression possible. To save a great deal of effort, I made sure that my cover letter was general enough that I could replace three things in it for each company I hoped to contact. I aimed to replace their name twice, once in the introduction and once in the middle. Along with this I included the category of the company as a description of the type of work I was interested in which when combined, gave the perception that the letter had been personally written for each company I hoped to contact.
Once I was finally satisfied with the structure of my resume and cover letter, I went back to my list of companies and proceeded to copy and paste the name and area of business of each and every company into my cover letter and emailed it off. 400+ emails later and I was exhausted, though I was certain that there was no way I was not going to get a great job out of all of this hard work because out of 400 companies, there had to be at least one who would hire me.
As a part of my cover letter, I was bold and suggested that I would be visiting the island during a specific time (my spring break week) and would welcome the opportunity to meet with them for an interview. My letter was as professional as possible, following online templates that I could find that suggested providing contact details and assisted with the structure of it.
Over the coming weeks I received many responses. I was sure to respond kindly to each and every one of them thanking them for their time regardless of the response. There were many companies who told me it was too early for them and they would not be considering summer students until later in the spring. There were others who told me they had nothing available and some who even suggested they would be happy to hear from me again in the future in hopes that they would have something for me. By comparison to the original 400, there were only a handful who responded back willing to meet with me, but seeing as I was only interested in 1 job, a handful would do just fine.
Of the many responses I received, I was able to arrange for a very busy week back on the island with 18 job interviews lined up. No one who was willing to meet me knew anything of what I looked like or sounded like, I was nothing but a young Bermudian with minor previous job experience away at university seeking summer employment. I spent the entire week running from one interview to the next as I tried to be as professional as possible. Of those 18 interviews, 6 ultimately told me that they just wanted to meet with me and hoped I’d keep them in mind when I graduate and 12 ended up making me offers. Before I returned to the island my father had told me that I’d be lucky to get one job but I refused to let him discourage me. When I told him of my first offer, he urged me to take it though I decided to be patient and see how they all went in hopes of achieving something I’d be most happy with.
In the end I achieved a really good position that garnered good experience in the fields of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. Though in the end I decided that I wanted to progress into the computer/software engineering discipline of my studies and decided to move on the following summer.
As the summer approached the next year, I had aims to contact some of the other firms who had interviewed me, though before doing so I received a call. One of the companies who had received my details from the previous summer but did not have any opportunities at the time were contacting me to see if I was available as I fit what they were looking for. This was incredible for not only had my hard work paid off in getting a job in the first summer, it had rolled over into the second to the point where rather then me looking for jobs, the jobs came looking for me.
My father always used to repeat the same old boring quotes when I was growing up. One of his favorites that I always hated was: "How do you spell success son? W. O. R. K."
Sometimes I hate to admit it, but he was right. Other times, I’m thankful he shared such wisdom.