One Mouth, Two Ears

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 10, 2018

You’ll quickly learn that people in D.C. love to talk about themselves and what they’ve accomplished and rightfully so after all D.C. is a haven for young professionals looking to further their career. By that same token, you’ll also learn that nearly every encounter you have, be it in on your commute from Crystal City or at some Irish pub during happy hour, is a perfect opportunity to network. Communicating with people is critical. There is merit to the old platitude “It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.”
Notice I didn’t say “talking with people” but instead, communicating with people. Communication is an art form and being the loudest person in the room may not be the most tactful or efficient way of going about things. My motto has always been to talk less and listen more, and it has worked in my favor 99.9999% of the time. After the coveted elevator pitch, highlighting who I am, who I am interning for, and my interest my next move is to disarm the person that I am in conversation with. I simply get them talking about themselves, asking questions and more questions. Never linger on about yourself but also never sell yourself short or downplay your accomplishments but always engage confidently but never be smug. I’m always asking questions and never pretending that I know everything, and this mindset has taken me far in just six weeks of being in D.C. I’ve landed informal sit-downs and job interviews just from getting people to talk about themselves and asking questions.

My first week in D.C. I met a guy on the subway who was lost, on the wrong side of town, and he decided to ask me for directions. I helped him with directions, and we ended up chatting it up a bit. I decided to ask him what’s his role here in D.C. and that sparked an entirely different conversation, one that specifically met my interest. I politely asked for his business card and told him that I would love to continue our discussion as my stop on the metro was next up. I followed up with him the next day and met him in Maryland the next week over coffee. Before meeting him, I did all of the homework on everything that I gathered from his business card and prepped questions based on my research. Our meeting went well, and I figured out that I wasn’t interested in that line work. I didn’t land an opportunity out of that encounter, but I did gain a connection as he offered to connect me with others in his network. I at least have five other stories like this one. I at least have five other stories like this one. Also, always follow up with those who give you their contact or their business card, it’s not just a formality.
The moral of the story,
If you’re looking to land that financial analyst gig you’ve been eyeing, applying on is the equivalent to gently rolling your resume up, putting it in a bottle, and pushing it into the sea. All of your hard work and achievements are condensed into a cheap wine bottle (from CVS) and drifting into the ocean, never to be seen. You have to have grit and be a bit crafty in your approach to the job hunt. Every person under the age of 25 with a resume is applying to USAJOBS and looking to work in D.C.
I’ll conclude my tirade with this,
Prior to arriving in D.C. each intern wrote down one professional goal and one personal goal that we would accomplish during our internship. This week we received those postcards in the mail and while I’m well on my way to accomplishing my personal goal, I just started to smile at the fact that I had already achieved my professional goal of landing a full-time position in D.C. A city that was once daunting became my playground in no time. Interning in D.C. had been my goal since I was in high school and landing a job here was much more than I could hope for. After my fellowship in D.C. and graduation in May, I will return to D.C. to start my new journey. How’d I make it this far? By listening and asking questions.

Treavon Tryon
Consumers' Research
Washington, D.C. | spring 2018