The status it affords me.
Two days ago, Charlie Hoehn wrote about the odd relationship between his formal education, his experience in following his passions, and his current employment status (the abridged version: formal education didn’t fit into the mix). This got me thinking, yet again, about the value of my undergrad degree.
I’m studying Psychology and Cinema. Yet I have no desire to pursue either of them as a career. I chose these two Majors because I was fairly interested in the subject matter, and I like how they make me think. But if you ask either of my roommates (or most of my classmates), they will tell you that I spend most of my time working on side projects.
In my experience, as in Charlie’s, most of my future depends on things I do outside my formal education. Meanwhile, I make sure to take advantage of the unique situation I have:
As a student, I’m an underdog. And people like helping underdogs… especially when said underdog offers to create value however he/she can.
If I was real competiton, there’s no way Mirvish would have given me (cash-) free advertising for Cabaret in their newsletter last February (emailed to their mailing list of tens of thousands of theatre-going, mostly Torontonian, subscribers). But they threw me a bone partly because I was producing a relatively small, low-budget student production. Thanks again for believing in and supporting me, Chris.
If I was an unemployed (which I was at the time) U of T grad (which I wasn’t), I probably wouldn’t have been able to walk into the Virgin Mobile Canada offices and pitch an idea of mine to two upper executives. Thank you, Nikisha and Andrew, for hearing me out.
In these and other experiences, I was blessed by my underdog status: it put me in a sympathetic light. And because of this, I had to prove myself with what I had in spades — namely, ambition, resourcefulness, and passion for my project — while my relevant previous experience played only a minor role in the conversations.
If you’re a student, you’ve got an archetypal story built into your current situation. It would be a mistake not to get “in” where you want to while you still can… especially in today’s oft-lamented economic climate.
If you’re not still a student, how are you an underdog? How can people sympathize — or empathize — with your unique situation? And how can you help them while they help you?
(I really hope this post doesn’t jinx the working relationship I just tried to initiate..)