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Dancing up the Corporate Ladder

By Michael Kasinkas

One can achieve many non-dancing-related things through ballroom dancing. Think about it for a moment. One obvious accomplishment that is still often overlooked is meeting new people and developing socially. However, did you ever consider that dancing could boost a career? Sure, by meeting new people, there is a chance to network and find new career opportunities, but what if you already have a job you're happy with? What if you had the wonderful opportunity to work for a Fortune 500 company—say, Medtronic? Can utilizing your skills on the dance floor help on the office floor?

I started working for Medtronic in a contract capacity in the middle of May. When I had been there for about two months, my colleagues indicated that I had been impressing the people I worked with and that my direct superiors thought I was doing a competent job. But with Medtronic being such a large company, not many knew me. More pertinently, not many knew my full range of skills as a well-rounded person. I wanted to establish myself as a valuable asset to the company so I could secure a long-term position and possibly even a fast track to bigger and better things.

So one day in late July, I noticed that Medtronic hosts an annual summer picnic. The picnic lasts around a week and consists of different activities and little competitions. Each year features a different theme, and the 2014 Medtronic picnic theme was “Back to the Fifties.” Activities included a car show, a costume contest, a relay race, and a dance competition. My project manager at Medtronic who also happened to hold numerous national amateur champion titles had joked with me that we should enter the dance competition, but we thought it wouldn’t be fair and that our dancing might not fit into the scope of the competition. However, after mentioning the joke to a mutual dance friend and mentor, we decided to enter. It was explained to me that this would raise my visibility at Medtronic and important people would be able to see another dimension of my abilities.

So my project manager and temporary dance partner and I performed a '50s-style swing to "Rock Around the Clock," which was one of the songs we could choose from a provided list. We ended up losing to a small group who used a modern remix of one of the eligible songs and did a hip-hop routine. The judge was a smartphone application that calculated the winner based on the loudest cheer, not the longest-lasting cheer. It was disappointing to lose, but it was probably the best-case scenario.

Immediately following our performance, people from all parts of Medtronic were telling us how amazing we were, how it was no competition—we should have won. They asked how long we'd been dancing and mentioned how they wished they could dance. They even asked what my role at Medtronic was and inquired about my educational background. Even a vice president applauded our work and inquired about me.

It has been a few weeks, and people from all over the company, including some I don’t even know, still ask me questions about my dancing and interact with me. Not only have I vastly increased my visibility, but in the span of one minute and forty seconds, I sent out a visual résumé. Now people know that not only am I a young, multidimensional professional with a background in economics, mathematics, and statistics, but also a guy with great social capabilities and the ability to juggle multiple different workloads.

Sounds like a dependable candidate for a promotion.