Believe in Yourself and Others will Agree

The poor health of the economy continues to be a major topic on the minds of those looking to advance their career.  The combination of lower wages, higher unemployment and rising costs, especially in health care and higher education have taken their toll. Families have to put off retirement, cancel vacation plans and find ways to spend less. For those that have lost their job, fewer available jobs make the experience of a job search very difficult and discouraging.  To find a job these days, you must work harder, network more and be persistent. Most importantly, you cannot give up on yourself. You must truly believe that you will be an asset to an organization and be excited to prove it to anyone that gives you the opportunity.

Rather than being excited at the prospect of starting a new career, college graduates now entering the workforce, are just trying to keep their heads above water, with new loan payments and the day-to-day cost of living.  Since getting a permanent job in their chosen field seems like a wild fantasy, many are working two internships or have only a part time job.  Eventually, unable to make it on their own, more and more graduates are returning home, placing additional strain on their parents who are already working longer than they had expected. These families had not taken in to account that they would still be supporting their children once out of college.  Not having the money to spend and spur the economy, these newly minted grads, when they are not working, stay at home and watch reality programming to escape their own painful reality.

Then there are those that despite the ravages of the economy, are somehow still able to make their way through all of this domestic unrest, seemingly untouched by collection calls, rejection letters and many other of life’s potholes. They easily find a job or get in to the college of their choice without much fanfare.  You know these people, they come from the well connected families that have the money or the influence to get a job, or in to the college of their choice.  Consider George W. Bush, Yale and the Presidency.  You know, some people these days might call them the one percent, but others simply would refer to them as “The Entitled”.

There is, however, another group I have discovered—those that do not have the money or the influence and are not genetically entitled, but instead have a strong belief in themselves and are passionate with the drive to not give up.  They find ways to use whatever resources they have to creatively promote themselves and go after what they truly believe they have worked hard for, and are “entitled” to receive.  Here is a story of one of those people, a great person, and fortunately for me, my father:

I spent this past weekend with my father to celebrate Father’s Day. We got on the subject of growing up in the Bronx and how he managed to get into dental school some sixty years ago.  My father is an only child and an honors graduate of Bronx Science public high school. My grandfather worked in the garment district and my grandmother was a salesperson at Lerners Dept store. My father worked as a waiter during the summers to help pay for the things that he wanted since his parents lower middle class income was not enough to afford anything extra.

When it came time to apply to dental school and pursuing his dream of being a dentist, he went with his parents to be interviewed by the school.  My father had great grades and felt that based on the other kids that he knew were applying, he would have a good shot at being accepted.  A couple of those kids were actually being tutored by my father. When the interview discussion came to how they would pay the tuition, my grandparents told the interviewer that they were unable to afford it.  My father said he would pay the tuition as he had in the past, by working the summers as a waiter.  The interviewer then asked my grandparents if they could at least make a $5,000 donation to the school. They responded by saying that all they had in their savings was $50.00.

Ten days later my father received a rejection letter in the mail.  He was heartbroken.  His friends were accepted since their parents could pay.  Not only was my father disillusioned by not getting in and the obvious favoritism that existed to those families that could afford to pay, this was also the time of the Korean War and if you were not going to graduate school you were required to enter the service.

This was not in my father’s plan—he still longed to be a dentist. In order to continue his dream, my father decided to apply for a Masters degree in history. This would keep him out of the service for now while he figured out how to get in to dental school. His major in college was history with a minor in biology so this was a natural choice.  He was working that summer as he always did as a waiter. With only one month left until the fall semester began, he knew that it was already long past the deadline for applications.  My father reached out to the history professor he had in college who was also head of the post-graduate history department.  My father told him outright that if he were not accepted for the program he would have to report for service and would not be able to continue his application to dental school.  Without filling out an application, my father was accepted and showed up in September to start classes.  While getting his Masters, he reapplied to dental school, only to be rejected once more.  Now, not only was he distraught, he was also angry with those he felt were preventing him from pursuing his dream.

He discovered he had a relative who had married in to the family and had recently become head of surgery at the dental school. My father decided to call him and tell him a story. He told him that he had been asked to write a series of four articles exposing the unfair acceptance policies of the school and was going to submit it to the Post.  The head of surgery was shocked and urged my father to wait and not send the articles and asked him to give him at least a week to see what he could do.  Ten days later he was accepted to the fall class of dental school.

After graduating dental school with honors and then fulfilling his duty as a Lieutenant in the Navy, my father accepted a teaching position at the same dental school. Years later, he still taught, teaching one day a week, while also running his own dental practice.

Today, since the price of dental school is now 20 times the cost of what it was back then, my father acknowledges that working as a waiter these days would not be enough to cover the cost of dental school. Like many others today, he feels he would still be paying off a school loan, which might have prevented or delayed him from starting his own practice.  However, knowing my father, he would have found a way to make it work. He would work hard and do what he needed to do and prove that he was entitled.

More so now than ever before, if you don’t truly believe in yourself, that you deserve a position or are entitled to get something you have worked hard for, how do you expect others to believe in you?   The opportunities though fewer and difficult to obtain, are still out there, but they won’t come to you.  You have to go out and find them. Work hard towards your goal, be persistent and soon you will believe that you are entitled.  When you do, others will believe it too!

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