Wednesday, November 12, 2008
My Shadow is Bigger
"I see how your instruments sound so good--it's because of what you put into them, with your hands. Can a factory, where everything is controlled and precise, get the same quality, along with consistency?"
That's not the kind of question I can answer (though I stumbled at it, hands in front of face), nor is it the kind of question I expected from a high school kid who spent the afternoon with me in the shop and the office.
His name is Brandon, and boy howdy can he ask questions. Good ones.
It wasn't a random matchup. When he was asked by his job shadow advisor where he'd like to spend a few real-world hours, he said, in humor, "at a guitar maker's shop." He didn't know there was such a place, but the advisor did, and the connection was made. An afternoon seemed to me like an easy enough contribution. Meantime Brandon had prepared his resume (and, yes, there were jobs other than ones with the word "pizza" in them) and a portfolio of his interests and abilities.
He is a musician, and though it wasn't written there, I'll tell you he is gifted. He writes, he plays guitar, drums and bass, and he hears stuff. And, it seems, he hears it in layers he can unpack so others can recreate his ideas in ensemble.
It's clear that he loves music and instruments and all that surrounds that. He also likes innovation and problem-solving. We had lots to talk about. I had plenty of listening to do. I think my plateful of learning that day was bigger than his.
If we, at any age, think back to how we learned about the workplace, how we act in it, and how it eventually became demystified for us, we might even go out and look for opportunities like the one that stumbled through my phone--a chance to host a high school student for half a day and answer some questions and ask some, too. It's a very good thing to do.
You might be the one hitting the bouncing base hit that allows the 18 year old runner to advance to third, poised to score her or his first real job on an intentional career path.