“It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.”
I’ve been rereading a book called The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter — and how to make the most of them now.
I read it once when I was in my early 20s, and now I’m rereading it in my later 20s and I have to say: I’m doing some of the things they recommend. One of the concepts that author Meg Jay introduces is the idea of identity capital. She defines it like so:
Identity capital is our collection of personal assets. It is the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time. These are the investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are.
For instance, my job with TJ Maxx was not a good source of identity capital. However, that isn’t to say that I didn’t gain soft skills from that, which were transferable into the public library realm.
Becoming a library page and library assistant has helped me gain more identity capital. With this, I’m more able to progress in my career and find opportunities that can help me advance.
The following chapter is what spurred me to make this post. Because someone I interviewed (for information, not for a job) once told me,
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
To an extent, this is true. Content and technical knowledge can only take you so far. What matters more is the connections you make.
Too often I’ve seen people who aren’t as qualified get jobs over others because of their charisma. Something about them makes them popular with people, and that ultimately gets them far.
And when I read Jay’s chapter on “weak ties,” I saw my life more vividly than I had before.
- My internship was found through my classmate’s mom, who knew the assistant superintendent.
- I got my volunteering position through a librarian who had helped me before with academic work, and later let me shadow her
- My first job in a lab was through my dad’s connection to a coworker who happened to be a Principal Investigator (PI)
While strong ties are what I count on for the day-to-day, there is so much power in weak ties.
I hope today’s article introduced a few new concepts to you. I’ll share more as I keep rereading! :) I’ve found in the past that engaging with what I’m reading, reflecting on the new information, and recording my thoughts can sometimes create new insights. So I welcome you to join me on this journey! Let’s learn together.