8 Things That the Job Search Struggle And Hiking Have in Common


What does hiking have to do with your job search? Our summer Editorial & Social Media Intern Shane Zackery recently discovered that these two seemingly unrelated activities might not be so different after all.

Every winter, my karate dojo hikes up a mountain. In the cold, dark, early morning we climb in order to rejuvenate the mind and body for another year of intense physical and mental training.

(Keep in mind that I am not an outdoorsy person). When we decided on a date and time, I agreed to go, but my mind quickly began to panic.

Basic Things You Need For a 6am Hiking Trip:

  • Hiking shoes

  • Sweatpants

  • Water bottle

Basic Things That I Own That Are Useful For a 6am Hiking Trip:

You get the picture.

At 6am on the morning of, I arrived at Higginbotham Park in Claremont, California, borrowed trainers strapped firmly to my feet, fresh sweats warm and snug, and… crap I forgot to buy a water bottle.

Whatever,  I was ready to go!

Side note: I was not ready to go.

Wait. Wait, actually I had no idea that it would be so much work. And holy crap, is it exhausting.

Who knew that mountains were so tall and grungy?

After some time, I gave myself a pat on the back. Whew! Good work, self. I had climbed quite a distance up! Then I realized that I wasn’t even halfway to the top. Damn it. Back to the hustle.

 During my climb, I was passed by many others. One guy even came back down the mountain and simply smiled and said “You’re almost there!” before turning around and going back up. I kind of wanted to punch him. Did he seriously just lap me???

Finally, after much huffing and puffing, I made it to the top of the hill. Waiting were many smiling, encouraging faces, glad that I had made it. As I looked around, I was glad that I did. In every tired, but happy face that looked back at me, I saw motivation. I saw resolve. I saw winners.

Climbing that damn mountain is just like trying to find a job. Here you are faced with this task that’s supposed to enrich your life experience, i.e. finding a job so you can pay for stuff. You’re all for self-improvement and a roof over your head so you sign up, right? Right. But then you show up and you realize that you kiiiiiind of have an idea of what you need, but not really.

8 Things That the Job Search Struggle And Hiking Have in Common:

  1. Confidence. You can do this. You can totally do this! All you need is a little focus and the right attitude. You’re on an epic climb to the top of the employment ladder. Consulting? That sounds perfect. Game on.

  1. Feeling Lost. Okay, so you don’t really know what a consultant does or how, but apparently people with your major do it and you may be interested and you think that your sister’s boyfriend is a consultant and he likes it? Wait, maybe he’s an accountant…

  1. Cramps. Your fingers and hands will never be the same after writing all of those cover letters. Who knew there were so many different types of consultants? Note: Make sure that your new employer’s health insurance covers carpal tunnel.

  1. Stamina. *panting* “Okay, am I employed yet? No? Not even close? Alright, I’ll keep going…”

  1. Crying. Warning: YOU WILL CRY WHILE LOOKING FOR A JOB. Multiple times and at various intensities because there is nothing more frustrating than realizing that firms hiring “entry-level positions” want you to have 3–5 years of industry experience! How?

  1. Wishing That It Would End. I could be sleeping! I could be watching bad reality television and savoring the last moments of freedom that I have! Instead, I choose this?

  1. Wanting Your Mom. No one can calm your nervous jitters like she can. She was there for your first day of school. Why can’t she be there for your first big interview? Or your 13th—because seriously, so many interviews, so few call backs.

  1. A Beautiful View. Finally, after much huffing and puffing, you made it to the top of Employment Mountain! Congratulations! *gong sounds* Waiting are many smiling, encouraging faces, glad that you made it.

Job searching is like showing up for a hike in boat shoes. You may be able to gain some footing and make your way up the slope, but you’re going to lose a lot of ground every now and then, too. Everything is give and take. A few steps forward, a few steps back.

If it’s your first time looking for a professional career in the workforce, realize that you can never truly be prepared until you jump in and do it for yourself. Forget that friend of yours that just called up their uncle and had a sweet corner office with a view after the first month of senior year.

Like that first hiking trip, your experience will be all over the place. There will be lots of ups and downs, bruises to your ego, and moments of uncertainty. But it’s the climb, baby.

See where I’m going with this?

I’m not going to lie. Finding a post-undergrad opportunity that worked for me was hard. I slipped and tripped on rocks and roots. There was a lot of hard breathing and bracing my arms on my hips.

You guys go ahead. I’ll catch up.

I took a lot of wrong turns and weird detours. But, as I looked around after getting to the top of my climb, I was glad that I didn’t give up.

In the winter, the students at my dojo climb in order to remind themselves to keep the flame that they have for their training bright and hot. Tending to the flame keeps the water boiling. Leave the flame to its own devices and it will fizzle out.

What I’m getting at here is that you’ve got to actively tend your passion for what you want to do with your life. The job of your dreams (or at least a great place to start) isn’t just going to land in your lap.

Search every day for that position that makes you all tingly (or the one that puts you on The Road to Tingles). Search effectively and efficiently. Don’t let rejection or a lack of a response from an employer get you down. It’s not you, it’s totally them.

I invite all current students and my fellow recent grads to take this approach to this season of job hunting. Even if you feel unprepared, even if you have to call on your fellow students for guidance and support, keep your water boiling hot. When mountains of résumé submissions and phone interviews stand before you, keep going. Never stop. What’s waiting at the end just may be worth it.


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