I started to see the links on my Facebook page yesterday. Ted Williams, the homeless man with the “God given gift of voice,” was standing by the edge of a highway entrance ramp to I-71 telling a Columbus Dispatch photographer the condensed version of his life story in a voice made for big-screen promos and radio voice overs. Wearing a camouflage jacket and sporting a Sammy Davis Jr. smile, Williams held up a small sign asking for help, any help. How many of us have seen Williams, written him off as an addict, and kept driving? But on this day, he was becoming a star.
By this morning, Williams’ video was showing up on the Today show. They claim he’ll be in the studio tomorrow morning for an interview. Radio stations are calling and recruiters are trying to locate the man without an address. Some say they can make him a millionaire. I have to wonder if he wants any of the attention. If Williams had submitted his resume to local radio stations and Hollywood studios listing experience from a Columbus AM radio station years ago, a battle with addiction, and no recent experience to speak of, would they come calling? No.
Williams’ story is a reminder to HR about looking beyond the resume. Like other job seekers, I’ve felt the frustration of submitting resumes with no response. This quarter I resume the search for an internship. At times frustrating, disappointing and disheartening, like other applicants who don’t get a position, I start asking that dangerous question: Why not me? Followed by its equally dangerous cousin: What’s wrong with me? I keep telling myself the “right” opportunity will come soon enough, and then it will be time to earn my keep.
But if Williams’ story has shown me anything, it’s that luck can change in a day. One day he’s asking for help, the next day he’s being asked for interviews. For his sake, I hope the story has a happy ending. For my sake, I hope to accept an internship before I’m standing on the edge of campus holding a sign, and asking for an internship, any internship.