To the Point

From Cubicle to Corner Office

Why making connections is vital in every stage of your career.

It’s finally summertime, and a whole new crop of college graduates is looking to land that all-important first “real” job. No more part-time gigs lifeguarding or delivering pizzas.

At least that’s what they — and their parents, whose homes they’ve likely returned to — are hoping. Job prospects for recent grads appear to be better than during the last few years, but it’s still a tough post-recessionary market with a lot of competition.

How do today’s graduates land a job in their field of choice? I’d have to say it’s not very different from how the rest of us should approach a job search at any point in our careers. Hopefully, you’ve planted the seeds before it’s time to start interviewing. As the recent abrupt dismissal of New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson demonstrates, you never know when you’ll need to dust off that interview suit.

I firmly believe that networking, volunteering in your chosen industry, and getting out and expanding your skillset will more likely land you your dream job than simply scouring job postings online. I can honestly say that every job I’ve been offered throughout my career was the result of connections I’d made while volunteering in the hospitality and meetings industry.  

There’s a proven benefit to going out and getting to know people in your industry. It might not seem immediately obvious, but those connections add up over time. By volunteering your time and talents, you not only get to demonstrate what you’re capable of, but you also get to show others your commitment to your industry or given cause.

And, of course, membership in a professional organization like PCMA is an excellent way to grow your job prospects. That’s one of the reasons we offer student memberships. Membership offers a wealth of ways to boost your knowledge and skills, a wide variety of opportunities to share your talents in volunteer capacities, and opportunities to network with colleagues in different parts of the world, at different points in their careers, and in different sectors of the convention industry.

In addition to participating in face-to-face events, there are other ways to get involved. Get in on the conversation through Catalyst, PCMA’s recently re-launched online community and discussion group, at Check out your local PCMA chapter. You might even want to use PCMA’s members-only directory to identify networking prospects. And of course, PCMA’s online Career Center is a valuable resource for just the kind of meetings industry job you’re looking for.

Whether you’re searching for that all-important first post-college job, or simply looking for a new career direction, there’s much to be said for getting out and networking, helping a good cause, and showing what you can do.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.