Many of you here today have been unemployed for quite some time. You have been searching for jobs, sending out resumes and networking your days away for months on end. In the midst of this existence, some of you may have considered the possibility to give up, discouraged by the lack of results or response of any kind from prospective employers, who are no doubt inundated with resumes from people just like you: highly qualified, highly skilled professionals who have suffered at the hand of a historic global recession. There is no doubt that you are facing the greatest challenge in your life.
In a way, it reminds me of the bullpen in a baseball game. The relief pitchers are there, warming up, trying to stay sharp, focused and limber just in case they get the call. They throw pitch after pitch to the catcher who is warming them up. They don't know when or even if they will be called to the mound. It could be any second, any minute or not for another few games. But they have to be ready in case today is their day and they must seize the moment whenever that call comes.
Closers know that they have to stay confident and continue to believe in their ability to get the job done once they are given their chance to shine. Yes, there is tremendous uncertainty and unfathomable pressure, yet they cannot allow any of it to distract them from the job they know is ahead of them. The call may come in the 8th or the 9th inning and when it comes it often comes with he game on the line. You face a crucial moment in your life. Are you going to gear up or give up.
Many of you find yourself in this situation today. You are closers, waiting or working to ensure your number is called. And when you finally do take the mound, you will face an entirely new challenge. You will be stepping into a work situation that you did not create, but you have to make better. When you re-enter the work force again, you will likely be entering a work environment that has some extreme challenges and unimaginable constraints to deal with given what you have been through in this bruising economy. But just like Tony LaRussa when he calls for a closing right hander from his bullpen, you will have to take the ball and then start throwing your own pitches. You will have to contribute, no matter the circumstances, based on your unique strengths and abilities.
Officially there are 14.6 million Americans who are out of work of which there are 6.6 million american who have been out of work six months or longer. They say that the longer one is out of work the greater the risk that your skills atrophy and prospective employers wonder if something is wrong with you. They want to know if you've been practicing your skills, developing new skill sets. They also want to know if you have taken a temporary or project-based assignment, even while you are looking for full time work. They are looking for somebody who has been practicing and not staying idle. Employers are more likely to hire someone who've they've already seen on the job, even if only in a temporary role.
While you are in the bullpen:
God doesn't promise us a life full of mountaintop experiences. We will all experience valleys in our lives as well. Dark valleys, disorienting valleys, steep slippery valleys, valleys of despair and uncertainty. God does not give us a map to detour the valleys of life. Rather God will be with us, will walk beside us, during those valley days.
These are your valley days and when we emerge from this valley experience you will look back and realize that that is where you grew. You won't find growth on the mountain tops above the timberline. Growth is in the valleys.
"Consistency ensures that the curriculum in all of our programs is validated for substance and outcomes across the institution. "
- Dr. Benjamin Akande
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