Day nine of the Nowhere To Be Project reminded me how hard getting started in life can be. I spent the day helping my son tweak his resumé and apply for summer internships in his field, aerospace engineering. He is in that ‘need experience to get experience’ conundrum that we all struggle with at the outset. It took me back to a time when I was in the same predicament of trying to wedge my foot through a career door that seemed so impossibly elusive.
In 1990, as a college Junior, I completed my first internship at a police department in a suburb of Chicago. The purpose of my internship was to conduct research on the challenges and stresses of police work. I spent my days shadowing police officers and detectives and my nights writing about what I had seen. I saw my first dead body, interacted with convicted criminals, parolees and inmates, and learned a lot about the connection between untreated mental illness and criminal behavior. When the summer was over, I felt that I finally had something valuable to put on my resumé. Little did I know then that the career I was so precisely planning would look very little like what I closed the door on for good last week when I retired.
Life has a way of placing us where we need to be, when we should be there. My son can’t really see this now and feels frustrated with the whole process of getting things moving. What he can’t yet see is that the process itself is progress. He’s at the beginning now, just learning to fly (aerospace pun totally intended, haha). Before he knows it though he’ll be just like me with Nowhere To Be. Only then will the nonsense of life make perfect and complete sense.
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