Woodstock Area Job Bank

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On Sunday, June 10, Dartmouth College held their 2018 commencement ceremony.  The invited speaker was Mindy Kaling, Dartmouth alum, comedy writer and actor.  She advised graduates,  “You have to have insane confidence in yourself, even if it’s not real.  You need to be your own cheerleader now because there isn’t a roomful of people waving pompoms to tell you ‘You did it.’”

I found her words to be oddly profound.  She is right, of course.  We cheer our children  all through their childhood, from first steps into college and beyond.  Eventually, they become the adults and cheerleaders for the next generation. However, it was the first part of Mindy’s advice that has stuck with me for the past few weeks.

When I was fourteen, I was a U-10 swim coach at the Racket Club in Atlanta where I was a junior lifeguard—which back then meant ‘gofer”.   I coached the Blue team: 50 swimmers ages 4-10. I ran my own practices and placed my swimmers in their events during meets. All of it was my responsibility.

It is amazing to look back now and see what I did.  Was I qualified?  Not really. I was a competitive swimmer.  I had years of experience with strokes and practices, but I had absolutely no background with organization, discipline, or parents.  I did it anyway.  I can’t recall how I actually got the job.  I never worried about my lack of experience or my age.  I just worked with the kids, learned from my mistakes, and found out that the hardest part of the job was dealing with parents.

At the Job Bank I often speak with workers and employers that are stuck on the qualification roadblock. For instance, an employer may only want candidates with prior experience.  Likewise, a worker may not be willing to even look at a job that says “proficient in Word”.  During her speech at Dartmouth, Mindy also counseled graduates to, “ Remove the word proficient from your resume. This is how you become proficient at Word: you open Word on your computer.”

I believe we are more capable than our resumes indicate, more than our college degrees, more than the experience we’ve had.  We are the only ones in our cheering section and we do need to believe in ourselves to the point of delusion.  If we don’t, who else will?

This will sound crazy, but I truly believe that I can do anything I want.  Barriers are just that.  They can be hurdled with confidence and persistence.  I may never become an Olympian, but I could—no limit to my delusional thinking.

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