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Good to Glitch

June 9, 2009

I’ve posted a couple of times on how flabbergasted I am when I see someone dismissed out of hand by potential employers because of a single C in Macroeconomics or some other “glitch” on a transcript, as if any flaw was a sign that the vase would shatter under the first sign of pressure and must be scrapped, melted back down without delay.  Here’s one of the real, human stories behind the paper imperfections that can doom a person’s career, at least in realms where paper perfection is paramount.

Andrew Sullivan had recently posted a call to all gay people to come out of the closet, and he’s received a number of responses about times when it was maybe not such a good idea under the circumstances.  Here’s one:

I wanted to respond to your post regarding the necessity of coming out. I came out to my mom during my first year of law school after falling in love with a wonderful man. Being from a Catholic and Latin American background, she did not take it very well. She wanted to put me in reparative therapy and was extremely verbally abusive until I was finally forced to move out of my home during my final week of exams.

As you can imagine, I did terribly that semester. I had to sleep in my car and on friends’ couches until I was able to figure out whether to stay in law school or quit. I decided to finish school, and I recently graduated. But bad grades in my first year of law school severely limited my job employment opportunities as an attorney. Fortunately, I have been able to rely on my computer science skills from college and have landed a well-paying job in the legal technology field. However, had I never come out to my mom, I am pretty sure I would have received excellent grades and had a successful career as an attorney.

So what would Jim Collins or Marissa Mayer make of this story?  Perhaps they would have chided the young man for “losing focus,” if not by falling in love then certainly by declaring it to mom.  Or perhaps told him to drop out of law school, seeing as how his “glitch” had damned him career-wise anyway.  Never mind the character he displayed by gutting it out, or by moving out in the first place rather than backing down or “retracting” his sexuality.  But I suppose great empires are not built on “weak” wood like this.

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