I remember thinking this exact thought 9 years ago when I was preparing for an interview that I got because the hiring manager saw a small connection on my resume. We had both been a part of the same national youth organization. Different schools and different decades, but we shared a bond. I had listed this organization under a catch-all title on my resume entitled, “Interests and Activities” at the very bottom of my resume and always thought no one would notice or care. I was wrong, it made me stand out.
Next up, was the really important task: the interview, which of course, I would never have gotten if it wasn’t for the youth organization connection to the hiring manager. This job interview was the “big time, baby” and a real opportunity to get on a professional track. I had graduated college some 6 years earlier and although I had several great internships and jobs, I hadn’t done much more than some trained chimpanzee admin work and press release writing. I was ready for the next level and was fully prepared for the interview. I researched the organization online, read recently given speeches, read all the bios, etc. It was my time to shine! The job opportunity was an events and outreach coordinator with about a 9 page job description. Whew! Could I handle it? Yes.
I was interviewed by two people before meeting the “big boss” who would be my boss if I got the job. She was a Sub-Cabinet member, a Presidential appointee, and a lawyer. Scary? No. She read through my resume and asked me the usual interview questions: Why did you leave your former job? What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Why do you think you would succeed in this job? What are your five-year goals? Then, the biggie: Now tell me what’s not on the resume. Huh? As I searched my mind for something really interesting like how much I enjoy traveling, reading Pat Conroy, and sky diving… my mind went blank. She began to scan the “Interests and Activities” section of my resume and saw Alpha Phi – Member 1993 – present. New Member Educator 1995-1996. She said, “Oh my! You’re an Alpha Phi. Me too. We’re sisters. Can you start on Monday?” She laughed and I seriously almost cried. I am confident I would’ve landed the job anyway, without being an Alpha Phi, but it sure was a nice ice breaker. And as the saying goes…it was the start of a beautiful friendship. (Although, neither the job nor the friendship started on Monday because of a lengthy clearance process.)
In short, I ended up working for this sensational woman for six years and I must say, it was the best, most important and most challenging work of my now 15 year career. She is still my mentor and one of my closest friends and I will know her forever. We’re sisters. And I hope we work together again in the future.