Job Advice: Remember to Water the Plants

by Kristen Pavón

In the May 21, 2012 issue of Fortune, Dupont CEO Ellen Kullman said the best advice she received was from her father.

“My dad started and ran a landscaping business. He put me to work watering plants for my grandmother and for our house. His mantra was, ‘If you don’t water it, it’s going to die.’ That was the job I hated most: pouring water on those darn flowers. But my mother and my grandmother had the most beautiful gardens in town.

For Kullman, her father’s advice translated into “investing yourself in what you’re building in order for it to grow.”

For me, the “water the plants” advice also has to do with patience, and is especially relevant in the slowed public interest job market. Just as lovely flowers don’t grow over night, your dream public interest job may not be available the day you graduate.

However, if you stay relevant, work hard, persevere, and create opportunities to build your credibility and skills, you’ll eventually land where you want to be [or, to keep the analogy going — you’ll grow your own strong public interest law flower… or something like that].

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