For a few weeks now, I've been reading Dickens' classic, "David Copperfield". David and I have some things in common. At the moment, we're both looking for opportunities to use our skills and forge new paths in the world.
In my current search for jobs and interesting projects, I've been reminded of how I was back in 1991, when I was 25 and recently released from the protective shelter of my first contract at the Emily Carr College of Art (then ECCAD, and now known as Emily Carr University). The end of my contract forced to get out there, find work on my own, and make some new associations. I figured it was all on my shoulders, and didn't consider how my past and current associations might pay me forward.
The pressure was real, but the need was more than real, and I was a very determined young man. Not unlike, I think, David Copperfield.
David Copperfield: Social Networker of Victorian England.
After David finishes his schooling under Doctor Strong in Canterbury, he takes an unpaid apprenticeship as a Proctor (a kind of lawyer) in London. He sets his sights on marrying a lovely girl named Dora, and faces the prospect of needing to get money and to support himself and Dora. David possesses an intense motivation to succeed, for his own sake, for Dora, and for the sake of his Aunt Betsy Trotwood, who has recently lost all her money. David seems bold and focused in his resolve, and he describes his new mission to chopping and hacking his way through a forest of adversity, one tree at a time.
Throughout David's story (so far, since I'm still only about two-thirds of the way through), Dickens illustrates that life can be cyclical and repetitious, bringing old friends, family, adversaries and locales back into David's life, while he grows and gains perspective from his many experiences.
David makes friends, works and/or lives with them (or at least commiserates), leaves them, meets them again, and resumes his associations, out of friendship and mutual advantage. This cycle of association seems to me to be fairly organic, natural, and true to life. The character of David Copperfield is networking, socially.
Me, C. 1991: Portrait of a Hungry Young Man.
Throughout my first job (the contract at ECCAD), I was meeting other hungry young men who were looking for projects in software development, video, and graphics. I joined local graphics clubs, socialized, read, found out what local businesses were doing in software, graphics and media, and dreamed my dreams of a glorious future. I found part-time work as an instructor of evening computer graphics courses, along-side members of the local Amiga computer enthusiasts community. Some connections helped me find one part-time opportunity, another connection helped me find another opportunity, and so on and so on...
But, David Copperfield never had our Social Media...
Over the years, the friendships and professional acquaintances that I've made have come back into my life in different ways.
The relationships I made with staff at ECCAD benefited me with part-time contract work as a computer studio technical assistant. The friends I made when I was freelancing around and volunteering my skills at BNG Design Group led to TVI and the VanCity home banking development projects. TVI led to TranDirect, and a referral to Sentry Telecom, where I met friends who would bring me back to work with them again at AirPatrol Corporation.
Looking back on my career path so far, it's not hard to see the connection between the dots, and I'm grateful for each and every one of those hard-earned dots.
Getting job referrals from friends is a two-way street too. In the past 20 years, more than a few of the friends and associates I've made I have suggested for a position to my current employer. Many of these recommendations have worked out well too, bringing qualified friends back into my work and personal life to our mutual advantage.
Not unlike Mister David Copperfield, Esq.