Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez,

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  


In between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I joined the custodial crew at a college near my hometown. In a town of 600 people, summer job options are limited, and this seemed like the best way to get full time work with a decent, hourly wage.

I spent the first week on the job with my head down, cleaning as efficiently as possible. I recognized that I was one of the only members of the crew hustling, and chalked it up to being the rookie. I hung up my supplies on Friday and told everyone I’d see them on Monday.

That weekend, I attended a graduation party for one of my classmates. At the party, she was talking about her summer job. I can’t remember what job she ended up taking, but what I remember her saying is that she had to turn down the job at the bank to do this job.

Before I knew what I was doing, I said “really, you had to give up a job at the bank? Do you know if they’re still looking for someone?” She said she was fairly certain they still needed someone, and I asked her if I could get the phone number for the manager.  

The next Monday, during my morning break, I found a pay phone and called the bank manager. I told him I would be happy to be considered for the job that my classmate had to turn down.

Two days later, I clocked out wearing a skirt and blouse prepared to interview for the bank job, which I was offered and began the following week. My custodial co-workers were very happy for me. They took me to lunch and wished me well. They saw me as a young kid who took advantage of a great opportunity.

I share this story because this series of events shifted the way I listen to others — which is a key component to successful networking. This is how lucky breaks happen. Right place, right time, with the right action taken.

I could’ve stuck it out with the cleaning crew for the rest of the summer, but deep down, I knew that I was supposed to have that conversation with my classmate. I certainly didn’t go to the graduation party thinking it would lead to a different job, but if I hadn’t listened closely, asked questions, and been bold about my actions, I would be telling a different story today.

What’s a lucky break you’ve experienced? Comment below with your stories or share them on Facebook or Twitter!

Struggling to listen intently and foster connections? Reach out to me today. As a coach who specializes in networking, relationship building, and professional development, I’d be happy to spend 30 minutes with you to discuss your goals and help devise a networking action plan.

Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach, award-winning public speaker and passionate writer, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. Natalie helps her clients make more meaningful connections in their lives through careful examination of their network and through building an action plan to strengthen their personal and professional relationships.

Our Facebook Page

More Career Posts:

Looking for a coach? Search our Coach Directory.