No doubt it’s smaller than you think. That’s why you should always put your best foot forward, whether it’s in class, while interning or anywhere out in the professional world. I don’t care how many people are in your potential or chosen profession, it’s smaller than you think.
Two stories from just the past week of my life:
Following my second year of law school, I interned at the WTA Tour in their General Counsel’s office. It was a six-week internship under two attorneys: the general counsel and assistant general counsel. I have kept in touch with the assistant general counsel, who I worked with on a daily basis, but not with the general counsel. Accordingly, I hadn’t noticed he’d left the WTA Tour.
Flash forward to last week. For those who follow sports or ever turn on sports programming on tv or radio, you’ve probably heard about a guy named Jeremy Lin. Well, as I was researching for a piece on Lin last week, I read some pieces on NBA China. I happened to catch the name of NBA China’s CEO: David Shoemaker. Not world’s most uncommon name, but not exactly John Smith either. Could it be the same David Shoemaker who was general counsel of the WTA Tour during my internship six years ago?
Yes, indeed it was. I made an interview request, and I spoke with my old boss earlier this week about NBA China and the impact of Jeremy Lin. Imagine the terror that would have entered my mind if I’d had a poor experience during my internship or somehow burned a bridge with this man. He certainly wasn’t someone I ever planned on running into again – I left that internship knowing I was accepting a position in a law firm to practice corporate and real estate law. There was no reason to believe we would ever cross paths. But we did…life is funny like that.
Then today a random chain of events caused not one, not two, but three people I know from different areas of my life to converge. A friend from law school was in judge’s chambers with a judge I clerked with seven years ago and in walked an administrator from my undergraduate institution, where I now serve as a trustee. Somehow the connection to me was made, and they proceeded to discuss me. It was all good – or at least that’s what they told me.
The bottom line is that you just never know when you might cross someone’s path again. Never say never. Always act professional, and remember that every conversation (not to mention every internship or job) could follow you for the rest of your career.