A few years ago, when I was working at the San Francisco instructional design firm, VitesseLearning, I was very aware that the caliber of the instructional designers on staff there was very, very high. I learned a ton while working there and in many ways regard my time at Vitesse as a very formative experience that raised my game, taking me from talented amateur to professional instructional designer in a surprisingly short time.
Flash-forward to 2010. I’m working a project for a small South San Francisco biotech company. There are five of us on the consulting team, and three of us, including the project manager, are ex-Vitessians. As Phase One of the project winds downs, the project manager tells me that another ex-Vitessian is working full-time now at Lam Research, and that his group is looking to hire a full-time instructional designer. I thanked my project manager for the tip and contacted my former colleague about the opportunity. In July we had a couple of phone conversations, and his enthusiasm for the company convinced me that I should apply for the job. A phone interview and two in-person interviews followed, and in early September I began working for Lam Research’s Global Learning & Development group as their newest, full-time senior instructional designer.
Landing a good full-time, salaried position in the current job market can be kind of tough. I’d actually been looking, on and off, for several years, whenever working as an independent consultant seemed to be leading me into poverty. But, while I suspect my skills and portfolio helped seal the deal, I don’t believe I would even have been considered if it weren’t for the support I received from the inside from my former colleague from Vitesse.
The lesson I take away from this experience is that if you are looking for a job, one of the most important things you can do is to leverage your professional network.