What the Square Peg Learned by Trying to Fit into the Round Hole

by Sharlene Brown, Graduate Assistant

I recently had an appointment with a student who spent his summer in a Sales & Trading position. He had spent significant effort positioning himself to land this role, only to end the summer with the startling realization that he actually did not enjoy anything about the job – it was clearly not a fit for him. He tried to make the experience work, but to no avail. He resented all the energy he put into landing this role, and went so far as to call his summer a waste of time.

Indeed, his summer may have been a lot of things – but it was definitely NOT a waste of time. Imagine had he discovered many years later that this job was not the right fit. In fact, his ability to cross this job off the list puts him a step closer to figuring out what does fit. Many students find themselves in a high pressured environment where they must immediately find what’s “right” for them, and very often forget the great value of also learning what isn’t right.

Hindsight is 20-20 since I’ve graduated a few years ago.  I see a lot of my former self in the students vying for these ideal internships, searching for what’s “right.” In fact, the same jobs and experiences that I disliked were the same ones that taught me a lot about myself and put me a step closer to finding where I actually belonged.

So, what’s the lesson learned here? No, I’m not saying that you should all go out and find the wrong jobs on purpose. However, I do encourage students to not become desperate if take a “wrong” turn, and instead take the time to self-reflect as you’ll stumble upon some great discoveries.

Author: J. Michael DeAngelis

J. Michael DeAngelis is the Information Specialist in Career Services and Editor-at-Large of this blog. He is also a professional playwright and actor.