Since graduating from San Francisco State last May with a degree in Cinema, our son has been able to cover most of his expenses with part-time work. His most recent gig was with a very small video production company – it was him and one other guy – in Oakland.

The owner didn’t like doing business development, so Ethan was tasked with making cold calls to nonprofits with the goal of generating enough work to keep the business afloat.

He got tips from Steve on how to respond to the typical answers such as “we do all our video in-house” or “we already have someone who handles that for us.” Ethan gave it his best shot and got them some meetings. But new business – at least in the near future – wasn’t forthcoming, so he got laid off.

Then a job prospect appeared; after thinking that he had really fumbled the phone interview for a job at a video game company, he got called back to do a shadowing day. He was shocked and ecstatic.

We checked in with him briefly after he had spent the day at the company. He felt good about how the day had gone; they said they would let him know on Monday.

So on Monday evening when we hadn’t heard from him, I decided to give him a call and see what the news was. As I suspected since he hadn’t called, he didn’t get the job.

He was angry and hurt. “I should have stayed for another year at SF State because then I would have gotten an additional degree in film production that would have really meant something. When I pointed out that this would add at least another $10,000 to his already compounding student loans, he didn’t want to hear it. “Nothing I did is worth anything.”

In the spectrum of the many challenges that life can throw at a person, not getting a job that you had hoped to get – when you’re only 23 – is disappointing but certainly not tragic. But it’s so tough to see you’re child in pain. As a parent, you can’t help but wish you could rush over, give the “owie” a kiss and make it all better. Being a bit of a worry wart, I’m already dreading the day one of our daughters gets dumped by a boy.

Before I sank into a sea of depression with him, Steve got on the phone and tried to help him put things into perspective; to remind him that there will be other opportunities, that God has a plan for him, and it is persevering through the difficulties in life that builds character and humility.

Was he able to hear us at the time? Probably not, but when we checked back in with him a few days later, he was back on the hunt for a job and doing it with more determination and less arrogance. He is willing to take any job that will allow him to not have to move back home and sleep on our couch. With one exception: he can’t bring himself to work at Starbucks for a third time. Oh well, there’s always Peets.