Chess

I’m on the job hunt.

The Riggs apprenticeship program has given me the chance to learn a new craft while actively putting it into practice—a rare opportunity in the world of coffee-fetching internship programs—but the apprenticeship format’s finest attribute is this: it ends. The urgency of a finite deadline lends an invaluable immediacy to any undertaking. The late Steve Jobs paid tribute to this principle in the Stanford commencement speech that has littered the airwaves in the wake of his passing. A deadline forces decisions and, although it seems counterintuitive, often yields the best work. I hear time’s winged chariots hurrying near, so how have I spent my free time lately? Trolling job boards? Fine-tuning my resume? No… I’ve been playing chess!

Last night I found myself scrambling against an opponent stronger than I am accustomed to, but I forced myself to remain committed to one of the fundamental principles of the game—make the best possible move every time—rather than pursuing the abstract end goal of checkmate. Grand Masters are capable of envisioning a final scenario for victory once they’ve sensed the texture of a game in its first few moves. My tender wits can’t think that far in advance, so I did everything I could to stick to the few simple principles I’ve learned.

I made a few blunders and lost some valuable material (non-pawn pieces) due to oversight, but, making every move with as much thought and preparation as possible, I finally got myself into some advantageous scenarios. I skewered a rook, the endgame’s most powerful piece, absent the queen. Then I wheeled my knight into position. All of a sudden, I looked at the board on my turn and found myself a single space away from leveling checkmate on the opposing king. I had by no means followed a pre-determined strategy to arrange for the conditions of checkmate, I simply looked up and the winning scenario was before me, a move away. Dumb luck, one might say, but I’d care to argue. By making each move carefully and thinking through the ramifications of every possibility, I put myself into circumstances conducive to victory, even without concentrating solely on the goal of checkmate.

Giddy with victory and uncharacteristically optimistic, I began to draw parallels between what had just transpired on the chessboard and the institution of the Great American Job Hunt. If my sole focus is simply to get a job, I will overlook the tiny preparations and possibilities that present themselves only when I commit to the simple goal of putting myself in the best possible position to get hired: arranging informational interviews via every possible avenue, fine-tuning my personal brand message, narrowing down the attributes of the position I’d like to end up in. Maybe if I can focus on those small things, thinking through every move, I just might look up soon to the surprise of an interviewer shaking my hand and offering me a job… only I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at all.

– Pete Anderson

Editor’s note from Cathy: Pete Anderson may well be the only 20-something writer in America today with a professed love of long format copy writing. That in itself makes him a rare commodity; brands cannot live by pithy headlines alone. But do let us mention he also has some serious talent. Read more about Pete at about.me/pfa.

 

This entry was written by Apprentices, posted on October 25, 2011 at 5:28 pm, filed under Advertising, Musings, Offerings, Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

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