Two years ago to the day—I only realized that amazing coincidence when I went to check the date on FB Messenger to figure out when this happened—I stopped in a parking lot to congratulate a woman whom I knew had just finished her Master’s Degree. Actually, I saw her and her husband walking past my car windshield, waved at them through the glass, and then I decided to get out of the car, stand up, and say, “Congratulations, graduate!”
That spur of the moment and neighborly act of encouragement had an impact on the woman, because it was the beginning link in a chain of her learning about a job opening that was right for her.
Because I stood up and chatted with her that day to offer encouragement and ask about her next professional steps, my graduating friend connected with another of my friends who was about to leave a job which would be perfect for the graduate’s next career step.
I have absolutely no connection to the employer and I could not have found anyone a job in that field if I had tried. My graduating friend was hired based on her own merits—her professional skills, knowledge, experience, character, references, training, interviews—but if I had not decided to stand up and engage her in a neighborly way, she might not have heard about the opening at the professional institution in which my other friend had been working and was hoping to vacate for a new position in the company.
I never thought that I was going to connect this graduating friend to her next job when I jumped out of my car. I only wanted to celebrate the completion of her graduate degree; I wanted her to know that people were proud of her and wondered what she was thinking about for the next steps on her career path. I just had wanted to say, “Well, done! Great job!”
I myself received a Master’s Degree at a mature age; I know that there are sometimes people who don’t understand the impulse to pursue higher education when you are already “grown-up.” One friend of mine, someone who never went to college, said to me when I had completed my Master’s: “Why would you do something as crazy as that? What for?” I had my reasons. I believe I was very right in doing it and my professional life has turned a satisfying and fruitful corner since. No turning back!
My graduating friend was also a more mature person, aged about 40, and she had older children. As I stood there by my car chatting and asking about her next career steps, I was reminded of my other friend, also about that age, who had gone back to school and pursued a similar Master’s degree and new career path. At that moment in the parking lot, the thought flashed in my mind: “Hey, those two have a lot in common. I should find a way to connect them!” Since both were my Facebook friends, I asked if I could try to connect the two women via IM and she agreed.
When I got home, I asked my other friend if she would mind being connected with the new graduate and she agreed, so then I composed a group Message and introduced them. They chatted a bit and talked about scheduling coffee to discuss the current state of employment in their field. They seemed to get along fine, but I had the thought, “Well, I am very busy right now, but I suppose that I can find some time to meet with the two next week.” I had to run off to an event for the afternoon and was not paying attention to messages. When I got home four hours later, I saw that my two friends had continued to chat on the text stream and hadn’t needed me. I didn’t even know what they were talking about, since they were using domain specific vocabulary within their field of expertise. They were colleagues and had become friends while I was gone. They did not need me in the least as a middle man for their conversations. From then on, they were friends on their own.
Parking-lot gal sent me the follow-up note that I noticed today in my archived messages, which was dated—can you believe it?—exactly two years ago: “God is so good! I just got offered the job that your friend was leaving!…Thank you for being there!”
I love this testimony to a little kindness on my part, something which cost me nothing other than a few moments of my time, but it made a big impact on their careers and even started a great new friendship. Listen to that little voice in your head that tells you to take a few minutes and do something encouraging for someone. You can bring people together and find the joy in watching the puzzle pieces fit together!