Blogpost, self-reliance

If I’d Only Known

One of the best job interviews that I ever went on was for a position that I didn’t know anything about. Before you judge me too harshly, this was about twenty years ago. At the time, I don’t even think I had a cellphone and the world was very different. I wanted to get out of teaching for a variety of reasons but didn’t have any strong convictions about where my career should go next. My friend Matt’s father was pretty high up at the New Jersey Department of Transit. Matt told me that his dad could get me an interview for something entry level. One day I got a call from the NJDOT that I had an interview scheduled for the next week. I tried many times to call Matt, got the answering machine. On the day of the interview, I walked into a high rise building in Newark, NJ and took the elevator up to the twelfth floor with no idea what job I was interviewing for. As I walked into the conference room faced with a conference table and four professional people staring at me, I debated intently what I should say. In true Pete Huryk form, I told the truth. I had no idea what job I was interviewing for. For the next forty-five minutes, I had a great conversation with the people who were not as upset as I’d have expected them to be. The people part of the process went pretty well. Afterward, I had to take a written examination of traffic code and writing accident reports. It turns out the job was being a field agent who would go to accident sites of NJDOT vehicles to assess the state’s liability. A week later, Matt called me. He and his dad had been on vacation. I didn’t get the job and I’m pretty sure that I’m fine with that.

Recently, I got into another situation where I had no idea what was going on. The problem this time around was that I thought I did. I saw the situation through my own lens and basically said every wrong thing and made every wrong move. My naïveté was not endearing this time around. It just took an opportunity off the table. Perhaps it wasn’t anything worth pursuing or maybe it was. When you’re in the middle of a wooden court with a hoop at each end, showing off your foot skills isn’t getting you anywhere! It’s important to know what type of game you’re in.

The world/people/situations are not always going to give you all of the information. Filling in the blanks with your own agenda isn’t always the best strategy. Opportunities will come and go. Some are completely right for you. Others are completely wrong. The rest are possibilities that need more attention. Believe in yourself enough to know that you can do almost anything but that doesn’t mean that you should try to do everything. Many opportunities are meant to be left behind regardless of how good they may look on paper. As I tell my students often, “you are the product”. So do and be the things that make you the best version of yourself. That job at NJDOT was perfect for someone, just not me.

There’s opportunities everywhere. Find the ones that are for you!


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