The Cautionary Tale of “Fearful Freddy”

I recently heard a story about a missed opportunity that was so gut-wrenching I had to share it in hopes that you, my darling grads, don’t make the same mistake. I’ve changed the names, but it’s a true tale about opportunity.

“Freddy,” as I’ll call him, is a recent college graduate with a degree in TV production from a prestigious university. Like most recent grads, Freddy’s looking for work and taking meetings at agencies, studios, and networks. Freddie tells me that he doesn’t have to necessarily work at his dream job right out of school (working for Ryan Murphy), but certainly wants to work for a great company.

Seems reasonable, right?

Well, after a couple of months struggling to find work, Freddy spoke with a former classmate who’s working at a small television production company. Because Freddy’s smart, he sent a thank you email and threw in, “If you hear of any opportunities in TV production, can you let me know?” to which his friend immediately replied, “Why don’t you just work here as an unpaid intern?”

Freddy bristled at the thought of working for free because: 1. He’d already graduated; and 2. This wasn’t some big name company. Freddy asked for my point of view. It boiled down to this:

“Take the job! You aren’t doing anything else, and you should just think of it as school. It’s a low-risk way to learn about TV production. Your friend works there, it’ll be on your resume, and it’s always easier to get a job when you have a job. Plus, you can leave anytime for a paid position. This is a gift and you should accept it immediately.”

Sadly, Freddy turned down the offer.

I think it was the fact that this opportunity came so easily that Freddy didn’t see it as a gift. He’s become so accustomed to the struggle that when something potentially beneficial appears, he greets it with suspicion and fear takes over. It also demonstrated to me that Freddy really didn’t want a job in TV production that badly.

And so the opportunity went to someone else. I’m sure that person recognized it for the gift that it was.

So, what’s the takeaway? Let’s stop the love affair with the struggle and turn our inner “Fearful Freddys” into “FearlessFreddys” by recognizing and embracing opportunity whenever and wherever it appears.

Go out there and shine, my grads.