How a coffee chat landed me my dream job before graduation

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It was one fateful morning where having coffee with a morning show guest led to my “big” break. As a young intern soaking in everything there was to know about live television, I was always connecting with others. I was a journalism student with hopes of becoming a producer and writer someday in NYC. I loved every aspect of storytelling including reading, listening and creating content. This internship opportunity was a great fit since it was for a morning news program that aired from 5-7am. It was a mix of news, human interest stories and live segments from a studio right outside NYC.

When I got the opportunity for this internship, I was ecstatic since I loved every part of the morning. What I wasn’t ready for was the midnight call time. Who knew it took so long to prep for a two hour show? However, I was thrilled and willing to do whatever it took. This guest was a regular on the morning show and always needed assistance as her segments consisted of ideas for holiday decorations and gift giving. It was always a pleasure to help with her segments as she was always energetic and full of great ideas. After some time, we built a rapport and therefore always had something to chat about.

One morning she came in as usual for a segment and we were having coffee and busy prepping. During our conversation, I mentioned that my internship was going to be over soon. It just so happened that she knew of a position becoming available as an assistant producer for the network morning show program based in NYC. She also did segments for that show and offered to provide a recommendation with the hiring producer if I was interested. I got really excited but was definitely a bit apprehensive since my only relevant experience at that point included my internship, some part time gigs and classes at school.

As a result of the many connections I had built during my internship, I had a few recommendations for this position including my supervisor at the station. I went into NYC for the interview and was awarded that position soon after. I couldn’t believe that I was an assistant producer for a network morning show in NYC before I even had the degree to give me some credibility. It wasn’t until many years later, that I realized how important a skillset that came so naturally to me was in building my career.

Regardless of where you are in your career today, connecting is a vital skill set to making sure you are constantly learning and growing. I can testify that opportunities don’t come from just having a degree or experience. The level of complexity, trust, collaboration and information sharing needed today to successfully accomplish any major project is only possible through the connections you build with others.

If you have a question or are interested in learning more, connect with me.

RJ Johns