As readers of these updates know, I get emotional when helping the young men at Cornerstone learn how to tie their tie. It is such a rite of passage but one that my father never took the time to share with me, a fact that used to weigh heavily on my heart.
So, when one of Cornerstone's seniors asked if I could help him get ready for his internship interview with a high end national hotel -- I jumped at the chance! As the student emerged from changing, his mother sitting on the couch in my office, he was wearing a charcoal gray suit, black shirt, blue tie, no belt, and pretty good shoes...my heart and mind began to race. I quickly recalled the lessons my now father-in-law gave me when I first moved to D.C. and others I've learned over time -- "Belt loops need to be filled and with a black suit wear a black belt." "You should wear a light blue shirt, or white shirt with this color suit -- this black shirt is more for Friday nights out dancing, but will be fine for today." "Next time, be careful about matching your shirt and tie, blue on black is a risky choice -- be bold with your ties, but, make sure they match."
As I was reaching around him, tying his tie and assuring him that he looked great and that my lessons were meant for next time, I said, "Remember, look him in the eye, firm hand shake like we do every morning." "Don't make up answers to questions, if you don't know the answer, or are unsure, just tell him." "Listen, listen, listen...don't just fill dead air with your words, you might start rambling, which some interviewers do to trick you, so listen!" "I am a huge fan of Sir and Ma'am -- and remember to thank him for his time before you leave." Brushing the lint off from his shoulders as he began to walk out my door, I looked at his mom and said, "I can't believe how grown he is -- you are raising such a good man, you should be very proud." Her eyes beamed with pride.
When I watched them leave the building, I could see how nervous they both were and I worried I had picked the wrong time to give a "Dress for Success" lecture. I prayed for his peace, for light traffic, that he would interview well, and that his mother would be honored by her son's performance.
Bright and early the next school day, smile stretching from ear to ear, my hand firmly being squeezed, this student exclaimed, "Mr. Max, I got the internship!"
Is there really a better job in this city than mine?