I am lucky enough to have kept copies of my earliest resumes.
As an assignment in my 11th grade English course, we were required to write up our resume in an astoundingly boring format. Here are the highlights (leaving out some of the more personal information for brevity):
My future plans include going to college and studying secondary education in literature/English. After which I hope to become a high school teacher for honors and AP courses in English or literature appreciation.
Chagrin Falls High School.
Chagrin Falls, OH.
Years in attendance:
AP English 11
AP Comp. Sci.
Five quarters of a 3.5 average or above (honor role)
Extracurricular Activities (School & community):
Leader/Instructor of GCPCUG Teen computer Special-
Chagrin Falls Men’s Select Choir Youth Group Member
Joseph Baldwin Award
2nd place in Science Fair for Engineering
Midwest talent search participant
Proficiency in Microsoft Office, Frontpage, and Windows
Travel to: Japan, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, and New Zealand
Type of Business- Restaurant
At this point in my life, I had little to show for my 17 years on earth, at least that would show up on a resume. Yet, I still went through the exercise and tried to come up with things that didn’t seem like I was fluffing too badly. I was never so desperate for life experience as I was when I was doing that assignment.
I was a kid and I knew it. I didn’t have a blog and I didn’t have a Twitter account. I hadn’t yet started building any kind of reputation outside of the few people I went to high school with (my graduating class was 125 kids, which has got to be one of the worst environments to network within especially because the vast majority of us has started going to school together in grade school). There wasn’t anything that I had done which wasn’t being done by a half dozen or more other people (except perhaps starting a teen special interest group for computer users). So, at that point, the only thing on a resume is potential. All of the things in that short list are basically I owe you’s to the rest of my life.
Experience and potential are the two sides of a coin for our identities. In the first years of life, our coins are weighted so heavily toward potential that there is almost no consideration of the other side. As our resumes fill up, the balance is restored somewhat. It is only when we stop learning that our experience begins to outweigh our potential, landing up with the same predictability as our stories of the good old days.
I wonder often at whether or not my balance between experience and potential is sufficient. As I revise my resume for the hundredth time, I am struggling to know exactly what is expeience and what is potential, and how much of either someone else can see.
I feel as though I did when I was 17, looking at that nearly empty sheet of paper. I am desperate for things that would make me seem more valuable. I am conscious of my relative youth and inexperience with responsibility. I know that my world view is colored by my family and my eccentric technological interests (read: geek cred). My specific skill set is nothing in comparison to the generalists that I imagine are around every corner.
While all of those things are true, I feel better about putting things on paper. The spaces I have created for learning and collaboration have left a much more permanent (and searchable) resume. The potential is concrete. The plans are already in motion. My coin may remain unbalanced, but as it spins around on the table, waiting to make the decision about my next direction, I feel comfortable in letting it go to chance. I have influenced it enough. The weight is perfect for where I am, and where my resume says I’ve been.
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