My boyfriend and I met in college, and are following similar career paths. We’re a little different in the exact path, but it’s the same industry.
Last month a family member visiting my family said that he was best friends with a head honcho in the industry. He said that my boyfriend and I should send him our resumes so that he could pass them on to his friend. I was all over it, even though I knew nothing would come from it. My boyfriend was a little hesitant because of the low odds, but he put something together and sent it in.
Flash forward to yesterday and BAM we hear something back! Or rather, I hear something back. Nothing about a job, but head honcho wants to set up a call with me to speak about possibilities. His assistant sets up a call for today. We have the call, and it’s all sorts of amazing. There’s no job (yet) but he says I can call or email him any time and to definitely let him know when I’m in town so that he can set up meetings with different companies. Not necessarily job interviews, but people who can shoot me in the right direction. Awesome right?? A HUGE door opener!
Here’s my question…what about my boyfriend? He is going to be traveling to that town with me (we made plans a while ago) and I know that he’d love to have meetings. But I already feel like I’m receiving a huge favor, and I’d feel weird dragging him along or asking for meetings to be set up for him, too. I think that would be pretty imposing. All sorts of awkwardness in my brain right now. I know that I should tell him that look, this is now my contact. You had a chance to send in your resume when I did (he sent his in a few hours past the “deadline” – when my family member left). I know he’d understand but…wow I want him to have opportunities, too!
Anyway I think I have this question answered for myself, but I have no way to approach it. Should I just own the fact that this is now my situation? Or should I bring it up with bf and talk to him about it? This is nothing we would ever break up over, but I love him and want him to have awesome opportunities, too. And I really want to spare hurt feelings.
Opportunities For All!
I have very strong opinions about this, are you ready?
It will be ok if you are the first to land a job in your industry in (place), if you are the one who really gets the advantage of your family member’s contact, and/or that the people involved are really interested in doing you the favor. It will be okay if the head honcho guy liked your materials better. Say thank you, set up and go to every meeting that you can, and seize the fuck out of this opportunity. Make it about you, what you can do for the company, what you can learn. Don’t dilute this experience by also trying to sell your awesome boyfriend at the same time. It will weaken your position if you spend YOUR job interviews saying “Well, my boyfriend…” and “By the way, my boyfriend…” Let people do the favor they’ve offered to do for you and don’t try to expand it to include him right now. It’s actually a teensy bit rude.
If you’re both in the same industry and you’re both good at what you do (and it sounds like you are), this is something that is going to happen over and over again in your lives. One of you will get The Call and be the pioneer into a given city or opportunity. You will say yes and then once you’re in the door you will do reconnaissance for the other person. You’ll be the first to hear about openings, you’ll be the one who can see and advocate how your the other person’s skills might solve a certain problem. He’ll do the same for you (and he’ll have his chance).
I would not present this to your boyfriend as a problem. “Good news, boyfriend, they want me to come talk to them when we’re in town. I’m going to go find out all that I can and report back.” If he’s bummed that they didn’t call him, too, it’s totally understandable! And you can express empathy without taking this on as an Unfair Problem You Must Fix.
A good partner is going to understand and be psyched for you. He may be sad, but he won’t steal your thunder or pressure you into trying to rep him, too. If he sulks and tries to pressure you, that is bad mojo and you can shut it down this way: “Of course I wish they’d called both of us, but I’m glad that they called one of us, and if the situation were reversed I’d be happy for you. It’s unrealistic to expect that both of us would break into this industry in exactly the same way at the same time. I understand why you’re bummed out, and I would be too in your shoes, but right now I need you to be happy for me and trust that we’ll both get our chances at this.
Notice the distinct lack of the words “I’m sorry” in that script. Being awesome is not something to apologize for. Please, please don’t offer to advocate for him or to try to set up meetings for him to make him feel better. In a weird way it will make something that isn’t your decision at all – “Some honcho at some company called me instead of you!” – into something that feels like your decision or your “fault” even though whatever happens (even the decision about whether YOU yourself get the job) is totally beyond your control.
YOU are not hurting anyone’s feelings by being awesome at what you do, and it’s not your responsibility to get your boyfriend a job or to manage whatever feelings he has about this. Go after this opportunity as hard as you can and hope the two of you will play a life-long game of job leapfrog.
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