Channeling Reese

reeseA couple of months ago I stumbled across this essay, adapted from a speech Reese Witherspoon gave to her students of her high school. I think it’s really great, and can totally be applied to Penn students. Just substitute “high school” for “college,” or “Penn,” and read on:

Now, I personally have pinned Reese’s bangs to my Pinterest “hair inspiration” page, so I’m not sure I agree with her bangs advice, but the rest is spot-on.  

Be curious. If you’re interested in something, find out more about it. Read, talk to people, ask questions. 

Be brave. It can be intimidating at Penn, looking over your shoulder and seeing all the amazing things your peers are accomplishing. It’s natural to ask how yourself you’re measuring up. But remember, someone else’s feat may not be one you’re even interested in personally. Applaud your friend, be a huge cheerleader and an advocate, but then take some time to think about what you make you equally proud. It may require stepping out of your comfort zone, but…

There’s nothing wrong with failure. Don’t let the fear of failure prevent you from trying. This has been a big topic recently. It’s cliché, but employers won’t rule you out if you’ve failed at something. If you can explain how you grew, describe how you developed a new perspective, approach, strategy. If you tried again and made more progress, THAT’S a compelling story that any hiring manager wants to hear. You tried something unconventional and maybe it didn’t go as planned, but you tried again. Employers can’t teach that on the job, like they can with so many other technical things your job might require.

Have your own ideas. It’s an election year, so it’s kind of impossible to avoid political debates. If you do your own research and develop your own opinions, you can speak with more confidence and that’s important. Your participation is necessary.

Be honest, be graceful, and be yourselves. And honestly, bangs aren’t always a bad idea.


Author: Mylène

Mylène Kerschner is an Associate Director in Career Services working with the College of Arts & Sciences team.