Column: I don’t have all the answers, just some advice: Good luck

By Steve Contorno

I have been assigned the task of writing a column for this here “Career Guide,” uncertain of what help I will be to potential readers. First off, I should warn you my expertise is in sports. So if you wanted to know the market price of a right-handed starting pitcher with a career ERA of 4.56 (Jason Marquis, $4.75 million), I guess you could come to me; but if you want to learn how to become a stock market giant, buying and selling frozen orange juice concentrate, I advise you watch “Mad Money” or at least rent “Trading Places.”

Besides that, I am not even a senior. I still have a full year to enjoy life and make fun of all my graduating friends who have gotten 9-5 jobs and/or moved back into their parents’ basements.

Furthermore, I have resigned myself to a career that I have been told has little to no future, makes no money and has very few job openings.

So, I do not blame you if you choose to turn the page at this moment. In fact, I give you the opportunity to.

Still with me? Good. Here’s my advice: Good luck. You’ll be fine.

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The fact that you are trying to better yourself by learning as much as you can about finding a career shows you at the very least are a somewhat motivated, ambitious person. These qualities, I am sure, are quite amiable in the eyes of employers. You’ve also lasted four (or five) years at this fine institution, which proves you most likely know two things: how to use to find the best classes to take and how to balance coursework, drinking, late-night runs to Niro’s (usually after drinking), Mario Kart Tournaments, football games and reading this column. Undoubtedly, this means you are both resourceful and can multitask (or at least know that Yoshi is the best character in any N64 game) – great tools for any young buck entering the work force.

The opportunity before you is a daunting one, yet is a path that has been walked by gazillions of seniors and super-duper seniors every year. Obviously this means you are competing against your peers for jobs, but it also means you’re not alone. Take solace in the fact that the guy or gal sitting next to you on the bus or in lecture reading this column is in the exact same position you are in.

The playing field isn’t level; but it is tilted in whatever direction you want it to be. You can choose to see the advantages of others as obstacles in your path, or you can choose to make your own breaks. Be confident that what you have done since you arrived on campus is more than most of the kids from your high school have. You’re ready to take this step.

I don’t know what more I can say to encourage you. Again, I am but a lowly sports editor and I cannot throw numbers and statistics about the job market at you to ease your mind.

I do not have extensive networking abilities for you to take advantage of, nor do I know of a secret company starting up with 15 million jobs looking to hire all of you.

I can only say that if you do not think you’re ready to find a job yet, it’s not because you are not, it is because you think you are not.

Because all I know is sports, I leave you with the words of Steve Rushin, the former Sports Illustrated columnist, from his commencement address at Marquette University in 2007.

Rushin proved if you only take advantage of the gifts God has given you – in his case, an astounding appreciation for writing – with what you love, you can make it in this world.

His way with words and his path as a sports journalist have been an inspiration for me, and I hope the former can be for you.

“What do you want to be? Or, if I may put it more grandly, what do you want the world to be? Don’t tell me. Show me. You’re out of school now: Show-and-tell is over. When your life is graded, show will count for a lot more than tell. …

So be the change. Don’t leave it to our leaders to solve our problems.

I’ve met our leaders and they’re very much like you. Or, more sobering still, they’re very much like me. …

Had I known at 21 what I know now about authority and the trappings of power and what we traditionally think of as ‘success,’ I’d have been much less intimidated about going out there into the so-called real world. …

I gradually became less worried by what the world thought of me, and more comfortable, and more confident, in my place in that world.

Who did I think I was, this Midwestern hayseed who called soda “pop,” asked for Wonder bread in a New York deli and had so much faith in his fellow man that he eagerly surrendered his valuables to the first person he ever saw at LaGuardia?

I’ll tell you who I was, who I am, who we are: We are (Illinois).”