Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Placeholder:

Just like the zero is a placeholder in math, I told him, so have all of these interviews been the placeholder in your search. 

Of course I didn't say this to him initially. Not ever during the process. Never, in fact, until it was all finished, locked down and cleared to start. Because with all of the uncertainty, anxiety (mine, not his), need to constantly be "on", never knowing when the next phone call could be his future calling, well, it just wasn't the time. Now, however, it is. It's the time to tell him that we were right, not just to know that something belonged in that spot, but to hold out for something valuable.

In school I learned (yes, there are a few things I can still remember back that far) that in math a zero is a placeholder. Meaning that it has no worth in its own right, yet impacts the value of the numbers around it. That's how I've come to look at all the time and energy my youngest, PurDude, spent looking for a job this summer. Each time he went through the process, on the phone, in video chats that lasted hours, being flown to other states, driving 8 hours round trip, technical tests, personality tests . . . all culminating with either no offer or one he turned down (and even one we just didn't understand), was just a placeholder. For the right job, for the most important interview, for the best location, benefits, room for growth, overall opportunity.

Waiting for it, knowing it would come, believing in himself, not jumping at the first thing, that took guts. And paid off. This zero, as it turned out, actually had great worth. It held him in place so he could be where he needed to be when all the stars aligned.

We talked about it, laughed even at the fact that when it was all over and he left for work, we'd regret not making the most of his time off, possibly the last time he'd ever live with us. Oh, we had our moments this summer, he and I, time spent together. I had my taste tester and picture assistant back home and I took full advantage of it. He loved this Strawberry Shortcake Milkshake and I was so glad I developed this recipe just the day before everything changed for him. 

Strawberry Shortcake Milkshakes, bursting with flavor from fresh juicy strawberries, ice cream and ice cream bars. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #strawberry

Strawberry Shortcake Milkshake

And yet despite those moments, most of the time he'd been here was spent working at job hunting, wondering, worrying, even questioning past choices and positions turned down.

"In terms of your whole life", I'd tell him, just for perspective, "this may be stressful, but it's not like you'll never find the right job, never ever work". And he'd smile. "Besides", I'd say, "I'll hire you. You can always live with us, come with me while I do my errands, you can walk behind me and carry my purse. Doesn't that sound great?" 

No smile for that one. Because we both know that it's not "a", it's "the". 

Here's what I said to friends and family on Facebook:

"It's not about getting A job, it's about getting THE job. Know your worth and don't back down.

Some background: PurDude was one of 425 students who started the Computer Science program at Purdue together. He was one of about 125 to successfully complete it in 4 years, graduating with a 3.2 GPA with both the CS major and a minor in Organizational Leadership Skills.

His first job offer came while he was still in school. It was a good offer but not the right fit and he had the guts to turn it down. Second offer, not as good, came this summer and he turned it down. The summer flew by in an endless stream of interviews on the phone, video chats, long drives and being flown here and there for on-site interviews. Another offer, another "no".

Then in the end of July, and ON THE SAME DAY (of course) he got two GREAT offers. He had to choose between a fairly new and quickly growing company in Denver or an even better offer from a well-established company, one not easy to get in to.

Funny to look at one of the last pictures we took at Purdue. It was of him standing beside the official school mascot, a locomotive called The Boilermaker Special. I wonder if it was some kind of a prediction.

Because yesterday, which coincidentally would have been his first day of school if he were still at Purdue, he started his career at the corporate offices of UP (Union Pacific)."

The job hunting placeholder, it's not about "a" job, it's about "the" job. | Picture property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #parenting

Congratulations, PurDude. It's a mom's job to believe in her child. It's this mom's pure joy to watch you prove that you believe in yourself.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Strawberry Shortcake Milkshakes        

Ingredients (makes about 3 large milkshakes:
8 ripe fresh strawberries
2 cups milk
24 oz strawberry swirl ice cream
3 strawberry cheesecake ice cream bars
1/3 cup + 1 TBSP strawberry syrup, divided
1/2 cup multicolored sprinkles
whipped cream 

*Remove the ice cream and ice cream bars from the freezer for 10 minutes to soften. Remove the sticks from the ice cream bars and discard.
*On a small plate, place 1 TBSP strawberry syrup and place the sprinkles on a separate small plate.
*Hull and chop the strawberries. Put into a blender with 1 cup milk. Blend until smooth.
*Add the ice cream, ice cream bars, remaining 1 cup of milk and 1/3 cup of strawberry syrup to the blender and blend until smooth. 
*Dip the rims of your glasses into the strawberry syrup that you've placed on the small plate. Twirl the rims around in the sprinkles until they are coated. Pour the milkshake into the glasses and top with whipped cream.


  1. Super cool! You're so right. When I grew up we just thought "job". But, a career is what feeds our passion. Such wisdom. Also, my mom retired for UP in Kansas City. Great family-oriented company. Best wishes!

    1. We know someone who retired from UP also, great choice for him.

  2. Excellent post and mindset, I really enjoyed it, and a great looking recipe! I may have to "splurge" on that milkshake :D

    Lori Jo - 50 With Flair

    1. The milkshake is definitely a splurge, but well worth it.

  3. Congratulations PurDude! What an exciting chapter you are starting and how blessed to have the unwavering support of your Mom, who is also your biggest fan!

  4. Congratulations! How great that he had the guts and determination to wait it out for 'the' right fit! And omg, that shake sounds delicious! Don't mind me as I push you out of the way so I can get a sip!

  5. I am so excited for both of you. Watching him take these first steps into the great, wide world of independence!
    Going away to college is one thing. But getting THAT job and moving out on his own is something else entirely.
    Congratulations to PurDude! Great company. Great challenge. We'll be cheering you on from the sidelines!

  6. Congratulations all around. It is a great lesson for life to sort through and believe in yourself! Is it affordable where he is living? That is the new consideration, great job but living in NYC or SF , Boston, LA, Seattle, Chicago or even here in PDX is flat out expensive for young people starting their careers. The milkshake looks amazing. Ice cream is my downfall, Kryptonite, so I can only drool appreciatively!

    1. Some of the better companies do take cost of living into consideration when making their salary offer. Honestly, this offer was more than enough to rent exactly where he wants to be.

  7. UP?! Awesome. Congratulations PurDude!!
    Have you watched Hell on Wheels? It’s about UP after the Civil War.
    I’ll definitely take a shake! Mmm

    1. No, I haven't see it, I'll need to check that out. Thanks for letting me know.

  8. Awh - what a great post! It IS very stressful finding that first, right job. Congrats to your son!

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I'd watched my son go off to work before, of course, but how strange it was watching him drive off to start his career.


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