Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Don't Go Burning Bridges

When I worked in New York one of my co-workers constantly reminded us that she was not there to make friends. As a result she sat in front of her computer from the moment she got in until 4pm rolled around and she got to go home. She ate at her desk, always had her headphones in, and occasionally had a whispered phone conversation. I sat right next to her and we barely ever interacted.

To be fair she was a great editor but it always bugged me that she never wanted to talk socially or even eat lunch together. Not that I was looking for a BFF, but some kind of interaction with the person next to you at work would have been nice. At the time, I thought she was driven and passionate about her job, leading her to shun others and focus on the words in front of her.

Now, I think she did herself a HUGE disservice.

If I've learned anything in the last couple weeks as I look around for additional freelance gigs to fill my time, it's to never burn bridges. The majority of people I have reached out to and had a real conversation with have been friends and acquaintances from previous jobs or social environments. I've talked with a few former co-workers, as well as a high school classmate and a couple people who went to Marquette with me.

If I had gone into each job and social setting with a mind to just get the job done I would never have been able to talk with these people today. So, my advice to the college students reading this and others trying to make it in the freelancing world: Make connections, create links, build contacts. Don't burn bridges. Journalism is a small, small world. If you make enemies or neglect to make friends you are pretty likely to run into those same people at another point down the road.

Not to mention, since we are social beings it is healthy and right to build relationships with those around us... but that's a whole other topic.

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