I really can thank my dad and his “network” for two of my biggest career opportunities.
In college, when I was looking for an internship, he spoke to a friend of his (whose daughter I played soccer with when we were five) who, at the time, was something like VP of Operations at a decent-sized company and is pretty well-connected throughout the Bay Area. He arranged for me to interview with the Marketing Director at his company, who hired me for a summer internship, kept me on as a remote, part-time employee for almost a year and a half after the summer. Then I wound up going back to work for them full-time after I moved away from SLO.
Note that this company didn’t really have an internship program, at least not one affiliated with the marketing department. And, as I found out at the end of that summer, I didn’t really make the greatest impression during my Skype interview with the director. She pretty much hired me because her boss, my dad’s friend, made it clear he expected her to do so. (Luckily I managed to impress her on my first big project and worked hard all summer.)
Then, when I quit my job and started freelancing full-time, or trying to, my dad gave me the email address of a woman he knew in high school and college, who’s lived and worked in San Diego for at least 30 years. She wound up giving me my first real job as a freelancer.
When I was in high school and college, I read and loved the Jessica Darling books (Sloppy Firsts, etc.). I think it was in the fourth and fifth books, mainly, where she really freaks out when she finally gets a new (amazing!) job when her friend founds an organization and just up and offers her a role in it. She goes on and on about how she “only” got the job because of her friend and she doesn’t really “deserve” it, she wouldn’t have gotten it on her own, she’s, like, the least-talented person on the team, blah blah blah.
I would read those parts and just think, “Damn girl, get over it! Your friend offered you the job because she knows you and trusts you and thinks you’d kick ass at it. She’s not just doing you a favor.”
I always felt (I hope) appropriately grateful for the “lucky” chances, the chance encounters that lead to opportunities, but I’ve never felt guilty for taking advantage of them and trying to make the most of them.