More on the Goizueta Career Management Center
If you’ve never seen Pixar’s 2016 Oscar-winning short film “Piper,” then stop everything, pay $1.99 and watch it here.
Seriously — you’ve probably spent twenty-six minutes just mindlessly scrolling through Twitter today. Just watch it.
Like most Disney/Pixar creations, “Piper” has a simple plot but layers of emotional depth. The story follows a hungry bird named Piper on a quest for a meal. To accomplish this mission, Piper must overcome physical and psychological obstacles.
The film begins with a scene any beachgoer knows quite well — a swarm of sandpipers running towards the shoreline, beaks dipping into the sand in search of a snack. As the tide comes in, the birds scatter away. When the waters recede, they turn around and resume their search again.
In the next scene, we meet Piper — a plucky baby sandpiper. Piper watches her mom fly over to the shoreline and dig up a snack. Seemingly accustomed to having her food delivered to her, Piper waits in the brush with mouth open, eager to eat. But mom refuses, insisting that it is time for the child to fend for herself. Piper then clumsily makes her first effort to find food. She stumbles down a hill and face-plants into a sand dune. She finds a clamshell that turns out to be empty. And then she gets clobbered by a wave — not aware that she was supposed to flee.
Cut to Piper back in the brush, shivering after her surprise underwater plunge. After a few minutes of sulking, she builds up the courage to try again. This time she learns from her mistakes. She runs away when the wave approaches. She befriends a hermit crab who teaches her that she can bury herself under the sand when a wave comes. And the next time she gets hit by a wave, she opens her eyes and discovers an underwater feast. Elated with her new knowledge of where to find the goods, she gathers a feast for her friends and spends the rest of the evening collecting food.
When I recently watched Piper’s coming-of-age story, I was in the midst of searching for a new job. And that little bird’s journey of learning to face her fears felt oddly similar to my journey of enduring the emotional turmoil of post-MBA recruitment.
Like Piper, I know what it’s like to assume that you’re going to be spoon fed. When I first started my MBA, I naively assumed that job offers would come pouring in. I’d get the degree and BOOM — recruiters would be lining up to hire me and my esteemed colleagues. The staff of Goizueta’s Career Management Center made sure to let me know that would not be the case — I’d have to get out of my comfort zone and put in some effort to direct the next step in my career. They’d guide me through the basics of job searching, but I’d have to invest time and energy in mock interviews, company research and workshops to be equipped for the feeding frenzy known as On-Campus Recruiting.
Like Piper, I know what it’s like to want to stay in the comfort of the brush and avoid situations that evoke fear and discomfort. In the context of recruitment, my big scary ocean is networking. While I’m often tempted to skip out of networking events, I know that it’s the only way to find a job. So to conquer my fears, I use a few tricks that I’ve learned from the Career Management Center — I psyche myself up with some positive self-talk and then I set a goal for the number of people to meet at each event. Then I focus on opportunities where I can engage in long, meaningful one-on-one conversations rather than trying to compete for air time in a group setting. After networking events, I take some alone time to decompress.
Like Piper, I know what it’s like to fail. I’ve called an interviewer by the wrong name. I’ve walked into a company information session with a skirt held together by safety pins because the hem came undone. I’ve told interviewers at a 7,000-plus person company that I wasn’t sure I wanted to work for a large corporation (shockingly, I didn’t get the job). After those failures, it is easy to feel defeated or embarrassed. I let myself have a brief pity party, but then I learn from my mistakes and find the strength to bounce back and seek out the next opportunity.
Last but not least, like Piper, I also know the elation that comes with success. I’ve recently made a transition into a job that is intellectually stimulating, competitively compensates me, and gives me an opportunity to manage a team. I know that I couldn’t have gotten to this place without the nudge of the coaches at the Career Management Center, pushing me out of my comfort zone, challenging me to face my fears and learn from my failures.