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#HonorsProblems: Losing the Forest for the Trees – Breathe, People!

The following blog post was written by Gabriel, a GWSB sophomore studying economics, public policy, and political science.

Quick little preface to this article – I recently attended Ready, Set, Grow, a conference put on by GWSB’s two professional fraternities – DSP and AKPsi. I wanted to share some thoughts about what I learned from this weekend – feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Thank you to my lovely fellow peer advisor and UHP Junior Ellen Boyer for planning such an excellent event!


Hey, all. My name is Gabriel Galvez. I’m a sophomore from Sunny San Diego, California – the home of world class surf, authentic dishes, and wild, wet, west-coast sportfishing. I’m a proud Filipino-American, and I work for GW. Here’s something I’ve learned about working and having jobs.

Here’s a story. Last year, Mary sat us, the Class of 2020, down in the townhouse and told all of us our not to be intimidated by other students with jobs or internships – there’d come a time when we’d get jobs of our own and start defining our own personal successes. That tidbit, however, was a piece of advice I overlooked. I remember looking around at my older friends with jobs and I felt so inadequate. I wanted so badly to have a job – I wanted to gain experience, earn money, and be successful, all before I turned 20. I wanted so badly to be a “they” – you know, an average joe with a job that gave advice to strangers out on the street. Now I’ve got two jobs, an executive board position on a club, and peer-advisor duties. I know.

There’s this thing in the world of professionalism called an elevator pitch – it’s a thirty second spiel about who you are, your current position, and what you’ve done in that position (Lebowitz, 2017).

They normally go something like this –

“Hi, my name is Gabriel Galvez. I’m an intern at Big Baller Brand, the official clothing company of the NBA. I recently helped CEO Lavar Ball close a $2.5 billion-dollar acquisition of Nike, and we’re working on closing a deal with Under Armor and Adidas, too. We’ve also got our eyes on startups so we can expand the BBB family of brands.”

Here’s a hot take for you all – holding down a job is important for professional development, but make sure that your job doesn’t consume your life right now. We’re all undergraduates – we’re all young and have tons of potential. We have the unique opportunity to try new things and refine ourselves to our liking – we find out what we’re good at, what we’re not so great at, foods we like, people we don’t, etc. Part of the college experience is refining your own personal character – our friends, our favorite hobbies, the literature we read, etc.

Jobs are great because they help shape who we are professionally, but they will almost never define us, personally. Jobs are verses in the songs of our lives – careers, however, are the albums. And only the best albums, go platinum. There will always be time to slowly develop our professional brands. Go out and live life! The university has an obligation to get you ready for your career. You have an obligation to get ready for your life.

Too often, I have found, that people who 100% career-focused can be incredibly shallow people – there’s nothing they can talk about that isn’t about what they do. Those people can be incredibly boring. This is similar to why I don’t personally like talking to people who are 100% politics. Regardless of political affiliation, I avoid people who are 100% political because it’s all they want to discuss – I never get to figure out what they like to eat, what their hobbies are, or anything personal about them.

My calculus teacher back home always told us that we should never lose sight of the forest for the trees. The details are great, but it’s easy to miss the whole point just looking at the details. To quote famed 80’s actor Matthew Broderick, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

TL;DR: Don’t get caught up on having a job right away. Go out, have fun, explore the city! Grow yourself personally, and the opportunities will follow.


Works Cited

Lebowitz, S. (3 May 2017). How to Craft a Perfect Elevator Pitch. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-create-elevator-pitch-2017-5.