The University Duck Pond

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to represent Bravo Group at my university’s career fair. Poised in front of their poster board, safely guarded from the student masses by a long row of tables, I witnessed something extraordinary. Thinking back on it now, I would consider what I saw to have been a pond brimming with ducks.

Let me explain.

Everyone looked and played the part well – every student came dressed in their finest business professional outfit and carried a stack of freshly printed resumes in their portfolio, most likely purchased from the campus bookstore. From the outside, they appeared calm and collected, the way a duck appears to an onlooker when it sits in a pond. But underneath the surface of the water, it’s feet are paddling, frantically beating against the water as it tries to remain afloat. In the mind of every senior in attendance at the career fair millions of thoughts are racing through their heads as they try to plan out their next conversation with a potential employer, but the thought that screams most loudly reads something like “I need to find a job. soon.” So everyone’s just swimming around the room, talking to representatives at one table after another, chatting nervously with their peers while waiting in line at a busy table. But the most frightening thing about this flock of ducks is that they refuse to admit their anxiety about the future to their peers, because no one wants to be the duck that can’t duck as well as their friends in the business school who played eeny-meeny with their job offers over winter break.    

And while I enjoyed my role as being someone who feeds bread crumbs to the ducks, I was still well aware of my real role as a duck, as a mallard if you will, as we all share a common problem. There’s one in particular facing most college seniors and many graduates: Finding a job. Finding a career.

But as a purveyor of bread crumbs, I picked up on two noteworthy things from the ducks who stopped for a bite of Bravo’s bread.

  1. It’s perfectly okay for you to have no idea what you want to do for the rest of your life. The first 22 years are mapped out pretty clearly for us, usually by our parent’s wishes, so how can we be expected to all of a sudden know what we want to do for the next 40. Now is one of the best times to explore all of the various avenues that are open to you. If you’re offered an internship that’s remotely related to something you’re interested in, go for it. You may end up loving it (it could even jump start your career). You may end up hating it. But you learn just as much about yourself and your aspirations from the internships you loathe as you do from the ones you thoroughly enjoy. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, the organization probably wouldn’t have offered you the position if they didn’t think you were qualified to handle the responsibilities.
  1. Not everyone hates their first job out of college. A lot of people are willing to settle for the first job offer that comes their way because they figure it’s better to be employed and hating every day of it than to be entirely unemployed. But you don’t have to settle. Just because it’s your first experience in the professional world doesn’t mean you can’t set your sights on a job you’ll enjoy. If you’re one of the few that has a clear image in their mind of their future career, start chasing it now. And it’s okay to admit to people that you love your entry level job.

So, just keep swimming. If someone comes along and tosses some bread crumbs your way that you’ve never tasted before, don’t be afraid to take a nibble. But if you’re certain you love white bread the most, don’t be afraid to seek out those crumbs. If you’re persistent, you’ll find them.

– Melanie Preve, Wayne Office

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