The Value of Relationships & Showing Appreciation

Let’s flash back to 2008.

I had recently graduated with my Bachelor of Commerce degree and had lined up a campus recruiting position with one of the Big 4 accounting firms. With a job secured, I took the summer off – which involved a 3-week European trip to Italy, Greece, and Poland with my two best friends, a week-long California-Mexico cruise with my family, a trip to the Calgary Stampede with two of my closest friends, and a 6-week language/culture exchange in Montreal.┬áLife was good!

In late August, I started my campus recruiting job. Although the job was very demanding (e.g. long hours, tight deadlines, multiple competing priorities), I savoured the challenge and loved the team that I worked with. I was on a 5-month contract since it was a seasonal position, but I was confident that I would be asked to stay on for longer and my manager had hinted as much.

Enter: Financial Crisis of 2008

It was December 2008. My contract was on the verge of expiry, and my manager regretfully informed me that they couldn’t extend my contract or hire me on as a full-time staff member due to a company-wide hiring freeze.

Needless to say, I was disappointed, but stayed optimistic. Without sounding arrogant, I knew that I had a strong resume and was highly employable, so I jumped into the job market with gusto. I quickly realized that I had severely underestimated the impact of the financial crisis. It was a huge blow to the ego to send out resume after resume without getting any calls back. Finally, after weeks of perseverance, I landed a Human Resources Administrator position with a small company specializing in resume writing. It wasn’t my dream job by any means, but it combined my HR education with my strong writing skills, so I was game.

The catch? It wasn’t set to start for another 6 weeks, and I had bills to pay, so I needed some temporary cash flow to tide me over.

Fortunately, I am very much a “relationship” person, meaning that I am very good with staying in touch with people and am careful to leave lasting positive impressions. In the summer of 2007, I was an HR Consulting Assistant with the HR Consulting Department at Central 1 Credit Union. While I worked there, I became addicted to the cheese scones served in the cafeteria. They were smooth, buttery, slightly sweet, moist, and delicious. I’m not exaggerating when I say I had a scone every day, and the cafeteria staff soon came to know me by name.

I worked with another summer student, Tiffany, who was also an HR major at UBC. She continued to work at Central 1 on a part-time basis during school after our summer contract. I stayed in touch with her and reached out during my job hunt in late 2008. She mentioned that the Marketing & Creative Services department at Central 1 needed a Marketing Assistant on a temporary basis to help them deal with an overflow of work.

I had, once upon a time, considered majoring in Marketing, so I was piqued by the opportunity and the timing seemed to work out perfectly. 6 weeks flew by quickly as I mailed out hundreds of magazines, analyzed countless Excel sheets, unpacked and sorted printer supplies, and other various tasks. It certainly wasn’t the most glamourous work, but the team that I worked with was top-notch and the environment was energetic and fun. Plus, I had unlimited access to the cafeteria cheese scones again. It became a running joke – I became the cheese scone champion and converted non-believers within the department into fanatics.

That said, I was eager to get on with my “career” and started my HR Administrator job at the resume company. A week into my role, I received a plain, brown-paper wrapped package couriered and addressed to me at my new office. I was baffled. I hadn’t given anyone my address and I certainly wasn’t expecting a delivery. I found this inside:

I was dumbfounded. The scones were still slightly warm. I discovered later that they had used the fastest courier delivery option available. I couldn’t say no to such a delicious and heartfelt proposition. Who could? A month later, I was the Marketing Coordinator at Central 1 Credit Union, where I stayed for over two years before moving to Toronto… But that is a story for another time!