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My Burning Issue: I Don’t Have Any Dragon-Slaying Stories!

Dear Liz and Team,

I love your site but I feel sad about my job search because I just finished college in June and I don’t have any Dragon-Slaying Stories.  I want to write a Pain Letter but what can I say I’ve done?

All I did was work at Five Guys Burgers and Fries in my freshman year, work as a Resident Advisor (not for pay but for free rent in the dorm) my sophomore year, and then I sat on the Social Justice Committee at my college in my third year and I worked at the campus bowling alley.

I was a babysitter for the head of Residence Life and I was the VP of Programs for our campus chapter of the American Marketing Association. I can’t say that I did anything magnificent while I was in school but I know I was always exhausted!

Can you help?



Dear Maggie,

Congratulations on your new degree! That is wonderful news.

One of the reasons we started the Human Workplace movement is that we felt sad, too. We felt sad about the way people go to work and think they can’t be human there.

We felt sad about the way people job-hunt, and the way they think about themselves — and you are a perfect example!

We know that when we get a chance to meet you in person one day we will be incredibly impressed by you Maggie — we are impressed already!

Look at all the great stuff you did during school. Any one of the jobs you mention has given you tremendous stories to tell. Most of us don’t think about the stories we accumulate, but they give us our muscles and our power — even more than our degrees!

Our team at Human Workplace has ten gazillion degrees among us, but we know that our power to help people doesn’t come from our degrees. It comes from our stories!

You’ve got great stories. Get a journal and begin to pull them out of your memory banks and write them down. We know you have stories from Five Guys Burgers & Fries — times when you had to think fast and take care of a customer or get a drunk guy out of the restaurant or deal with something crazy that happened.

You have stories from your RA days — what a huge responsibility for a very young person, and what a great job you did with it!

The head of Residence Life could have picked anyone to watch his or her children, and they picked you. Why? It’s because you’re trustworthy and smart and great with children. Like most young people and plenty of older ones you are doubtful about your worth, but you have lots to be proud of!

You were busy with schoolwork but you took the time to get involved with the Social Justice Committee. That’s righteous, Maggie, and it speaks to the kind of person you are. You can talk about your Social Justice projects in your Pain Letters.

You can talk about corralling the freshman women who lived on your floor when you were an RA. You put on programs for them, right? Most RAs do. You can talk about your programs and the impact they had on the first-year experiences of your flock!

You can talk about the programs you put together for your chapter of the American Marketing Association, and the crazy things that happened in the bowling alley and how you saved the day when it mattered.

Once you start pulling out the stories and getting them in your journal, you’re going to amaze yourself. Twenty years on this planet is a long time. You have nothing but incredible stories to share. We can’t wait to hear what you do with them!

All the best,

The Human Workplace Team

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