How to get ahead in business without really trying

Business - How to get ahead in business without really trying? Well it doesn’t hurt if daddy is the CEO of the company! Summer internship programs across the US are littered with nepotism – literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, even cousins go to work and earn a living at jobs where their primary hiring criteria was familial rather than qualifications based. Is that fair? I don’t think so! But it’s certainly not surprising. Business, at its core, has always been more about people and relationships than a numbers game.

Summer internships are valuable because they allow students to learn new skills while investigating potential career interests. Whether paid or unpaid, they also give students the opportunity to gain real-world business experience while still in school. Amongst recent college graduates, those who have work experience, whether via internships or other full-time business-related jobs, have an edge over their peers when it comes to securing full time employment after graduation. Clearly relationships play a factor early and often in career development.

When companies cut back, it’s more often than not a popularity game to see who stays and who has to go. Granted, economics also play a factor, but while the decision to do a layoff is clearly a business decision, the decision makers are, after all, only human.

One of the best ways to get ahead in business without really trying is to forged strong relationships. When you start at a new company, choose your allies carefully. Select and cultivate a strong mentor relationship with someone in your industry whom you admire and who would be willing and able to help you in your career. One of the most valuable experiences a young professional can have to develop a relationship with a mentor who is willing to share personal insights, interests, time, talents, and skills.

The idea of mentoring isn’t new. Ancient Greece introduced the concept, and it has been present throughout our history. Mentorship is a dynamic shared relationship in which values, attitudes, passions, and traditions are passed from one person to another. Prevalent in business, but also in other parts of society, mentorship can be formalized and structured (as in Big Brother / Big Sister programs), or simply a one-on-one relationship that develops over time.

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