First a disclaimer. I am Canadian, know nothing about Football, and until last Saturday night had never seen live football. Seriously, I have never seen any live football, not even high-school football. At Queen Elizabeth High-school in Vancouver, British Columbia, we didn’t have a football team. When I tell friends in Atlanta, they gasp, in shock and pity. For us, sport was Hockey! Period. Hockey! Then, perhaps basketball and baseball in that order.
So, I went to my first football game in Athens, Georgia at the University of Georgia, last Saturday night. I equate the preparations as equivalent to seeing the Queen of England. We prepared for weeks. In line with the cultural mores, we bought red, football jerseys and had them customized. We checked the weather reports daily for the 5 days preceding the game. We analyzed our seat locations and strategized, about how to get a seat with a back-jack.We bought rain ponchos and arranged transportation.
My first game ever, was a night game, in a small college town called Athens Georgia. It's about an hour and a half away from Atlanta, Georgia. Our ride tried to drop us off twice, but the road had turned to a river and we couldn’t get out of the car. All the parking lots were flooded, and closed. So we ran, for what seemed like miles, but wasn’t, to the stadium. It rained the entire time. Not the normal rain, but someone standing on a roof pouring buckets of water – rain.
What I learned. How attending a football game can teach you lessons about job search.
#1 Football time, is not real time. Don’t be fooled like I was! 3 minutes means 1 hour more or less. Every time, I asked how much longer, I was directed to the time on the score board. The wait may seem endless. Kind of like the wait, for employers to call you back, or the wait after you send your resume into the bottomless pit, of modern job-boards – like Monster. Don’t give up. Your time, will eventually come.
#2 You need to be prepared for any and every eventuality. Hope for sun, but bring rain-gear, doubles of everything from shoes and socks, to hats. Bring a rain poncho (hopefully one which covers your backside). Eat the boiled peanuts. Yes, for those of you not from the south, I do mean BOILED peanuts!. The come microwaved in the little green bags. Also, try a slice or two of stadium pizza, for sustenance. Like in a job-search, you hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. You will need all of your strength, both emotional and physical, for the battle ahead.
#3 The game goes on...I was flabbergasted to see the players, all suited up, marching onto the mucky field. “I asked, surely, they won’t be forced to play in this weather will they?” Both my husband and all the men in earshot, who heard my comment, just laughed or snorted. Even the cheerleaders, who were forced to wear head to toe track suits, for warmth, had to provide a show. Yes, I found out, they will be forced to play. Even the marching band, which wasn’t allowed to march that night, had to play. This is kind of like our current economy. Surely, you may ask, people won’t be forced to job search in this ridiculous market, will they? Yes, they will, yes you may be. Prepare, toughen up.
#4 Strategy, What strategy? We weren't sure what UGA's strategy was. When I asked about strategy, there were many grumbles, outright curses and stony silences emanating from my fellow, rain-drenched sufferers. Oh, everyone else was too busy focused on the game, to notice the rain. Though the guy next to me removed his socks and squeezed out an orange-juice sized, cup of water. For job-searching, you will need a career action plan. If you don’t have a plan, guaranteed the other players will.
#5 You need fans. You need lots of fans! There may not have been 90,000 attendees, which the stadium can hold on a good day, but there were probably at least 50 or 60,000. 12 UGA students wore speedo bathing suits/underwear and they each had a letter of the team written on their chest. As they game progressed, they shivered in the cold. The red lettering painted on their chests, melted and trailed down like blood…yuck. However, they had heart, never gave up, kept cheering. You will need your family, your friends, your fellow job seekers and your career advisor more than ever, to be your Fans.
#6 You will need to understand the culture of the team, game, locale. Besides the rain, it was an interesting "cultural experience." I equate American College Football in the South, to Professional Hockey in Canada. Same level of rabid, fan enthusiasm. Though, no fights broke out, which was both baffling and odd, for me? What is the company culture where you are applying for work? What culture do you thrive in? How do you know you fit?
#7 Play to the end. Knowing you can’t win everygame. This time, the UGA team won 20-17, against Arizona State. We scored the last 3 points in the last 5 seconds on the clock! For true fans, it was a nail-bitter and somewhat frustrating. Even Uga, the live,a Bulldog, mascot, looked disgusted with the game at times. Be prepared, since sometimes you will lose. Note: do you know that all previous generations of Uga's are burried in the football field? Due to the rain, I did lose something. I was soaked through my rain poncho, through sweatshirt, t-shirt, through my leather purse, through my cell-phone pouch and it destroyed my cellphone! 4 days later my cell is mostly dry and is slowly regaining function, as am I. Keep on going...
#8 Like with job search, you are either fully in or fully out. Either with us or against us. Don’t go into your search, half committed, or still carrying emotional baggage from your last job loss.
In summation. Torrential downpour/terrible playing conditions, incredible fans! Determination, heart and grit won the day! (not grits another interesting Southern phenomenon, which I shall write about later).
© 2009 -Present. All Rights Reserved - Sharon Cohen, MA,CPRP. Global MBA Career Counselor.