Serve The Coffee First

If you really want your dream role, and they won’t hire you, I’ve given this advice: do anything you can to get your foot in the door. If Google won’t hire you as a developer, then serve coffee in their cafeteria.

Why? Because it’s far easier to change the nature of a relationship with an organization than to forge a new one. Internal interviews are easier to get than external ones, organic networking (i.e. “water-cooler conversations”) is easier than getting five minutes with an executive when you don’t already have a connection, and demonstrating work ethic is easier than claiming you have it.

The caveat, of course, is that you actually have to serve the coffee.

I’ve seen people get 90% of the way there on this good advice. They find the company they want to work for, they identify where they want to be, and then they claim that they’re willing to start at the bottom to work their way up. But then they forget the “work their way up” part. They make the mistake of thinking that the transition from entry-level customer service associate to CEO will take place overnight, and they treat the role they’re using to get their foot in the door practically as an afterthought.

Working up from the mail room is an awesome plan. And you shouldn’t plan to stay in the entry-level role forever. Heck, that’s why it’s an entry-level role. But once you make that plan and get in on the ground floor, you have to totally recalibrate your thinking. You have to say: “Now, for at least the next 12 months, I’m going to absolutely crush this.”

Because the mail room clerk that gets the shot at the role they really want will not be the mail room clerk that’s constantly talking about the role they really want while totally shirking their current duties.

You have to serve the best damned cup of coffee anyone at Google has ever had, if you want to leverage that into a shot to try out for a different department. It won’t always work (and so you should know when to cut your losses and change direction!), but it will never work if you don’t serve the coffee first.

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