Let’s start this on off with a wee joke, shall we?
How do you get a university student to do something?
– Tell them it’ll look good on their CV.
I really should be writing for Christmas crackers, what a waste of my gift.
Anyway, not much of a joke because 1) it wasn’t very funny and 2) it’s true. How many times have you done something, not because you really wanted to, but because “it looks good to have” or you “need something” on your CV?
The “CV” is that lil carrot of bait that teachers, lecturers, parents and employers dangle in front of students’ noses when they think we should or want us to do something. And it works. There’s no motivational tool like telling us it’ll help us get a job or make us look impressive to whoever we’re trying to impress, when we don’t even know who that is.
It’s sad, but we do a lot of things that we do and spend a lot of our lives trying to look impressive on a piece of paper. A piece of paper that defines us by 1) how “smart” we are and 2) what we’ve “achieved”. A piece of paper that potentially determines what we do for the rest of our lives.
So what have we “achieved”? Well what are we meant to have achieved? We have no idea what we’re meant to have accomplished at any stage of our lives. Who decides what we need to accomplish? And who says we have to accomplish anything?
We haven’t a BALDY what we want to do or what we’re meant to do, so we enter a panic mode and do things purely for the sake of doing them. Purely for the sake of having an extra bullet point on that list that determines how worthy we are of being considered for a job. No harm, but I doubt climbing a mountain and camping for 3 days is really gonna see me landed as a CEO like.
We’re told from we’re in school that we need to “stand out” and have that “edge” on other people. Other people like our peers, colleagues and friends. We’re pretty much told to view everyone else as competition. But like, what are we competing for? We’re all different. We’re doing different things, we want to do different things and we want to work in different places. So why are we ‘competing’ with each other? Why are we supposedly measured by the same criteria?
We have to do something that hardly anyone else has done, because pretty much everyone’s done the same things. But, we’ve all done the same things because we’re all trying to stand out, and the only way we can stand out is by doing the same thing that everyone else has the option to do. So because everyone tries so hard to be different, we all end up being the same. Yeah, I’d to re-read that to make sure I followed it, too.
I think it’s great that we’ve loads of opportunities and chances to try different things and get experience, and we should give them a go and make use of them. We should be encouraged to do whatever we have to do so we can do whatever we want to do (even if we don’t know what that is). But, we should also be encouraged to have fun and live our best lives before we’re too old or committed to be able to. Like, yeah work experience is class and all, but we need life experience too.
There’s just a lot of pressure on young people to “get ahead” and “get experience”, when we don’t have a notion what we actually want to get ahead or experience in. So, we don’t really spend the time trying to figure it out, we just make use of all these “great opportunities” and hope we’ll have an epiphany along the way. Still waiting on my wee light bulb moment. Gonna come any day now, just you wait and see.
Now, I’m not saying we’re all robots who do things we don’t want to do just for make our CVs a bit snazzy. But, the reality is, we do a lot of things just to improve our chances of getting a job. Because we’re pretty much conditioned to think that getting a “good job” is one of the most important things in life. But, what is a “good” job? High pay? Holidays? Job satisfaction? Casual Fridays?
We decide. We get to make that judgement on whether a job is “good” for us or not. So, why don’t we get to decide what experience is “good” for us to do? “Good” means something different to everyone, so why does it mean the same thing when it comes to a CV?
Yeah, you get judged off what you’re like; your personality, your likeability and how you’d “fit” into whatever you’re trying to fit into. But, before you even get a chance to be judged on what YOU are like, you’re judged off what that piece of paper is like. It’s a bit like online dating, you’re not gonna swipe right or meet up with someone who’s got a really cringey bio, are you? They could be an absolute geg and maybe even your soulmate, but you’ll never know because you wrote them off based on “6ft 2. Here for a good time not a long time ✌️”. That’s us, judged on whether or not we’re an employer’s “type on paper”. Literally. How shallow, pffft.
So, no wonder we spend so much time and effort doing things not just for ourselves, but for a piece of paper, too. Because, we’ve spent most our lives believing that we’re not much more than that piece of paper.