top of page

What can we learn from a young man who walked 20 miles for his 1st day on the job? A lot of lessons!

By now, I am certain that many of you have seen the viral video and story of Walter Carr. He is the young college student whose car broke down the day before he was set to start his new job for a moving company. Instead of missing work, he chose to walk the 20 miles to the job site. Along the way, he was befriended by local police officers, customers, fellow employees and ultimately the company CEO who rewarded him with a new car for his efforts. It is a fantastic story and if you missed it, you can read and view from the Washington Post here.

Beyond the smile the story brought to my face (and yes…a few tears to my eyes), I realized the story also held meaning for my business as a career coach working with soon to be and recent college graduates. Here are just a few that come to mind:

Grit is one of the most important soft skills you can demonstrate to a potential employer. Technical skills can be taught to anyone, but grit and determination is a personality trait you either have or you don’t possess. With a single act (walking 20 miles to work is a pretty good act), Walter showed his employer that nothing would stop him from getting his work done. Who would not want an employee like Walter on the team? So, if you are a recent college grad looking for your first job, find a way to demonstrate grit as a part of your personal brand. Grit is like a flashing neon sign that says: “Hire me. You will not be disappointed”.

Be open to networking and good things will happen. I coach my clients that building a strong professional network is the key to finding your first job. Networking requires you to meet new people, tell your story and be open to offers of assistance. Walter met several police officers on his 20-mile midnight trek. He told them his story and of his unflinching determination to be there for his employer and his customer. The story resonated with the officers and Walter soon found himself eating a hearty breakfast with the police officers and even a car ride to his destination. As humans, we are hard wired to help others get a leg up. You just need to add others to your network and tell your story.

Put the customer first and you will shine. In your job search, it is important to demonstrate to potential employers that you understand the importance of putting the customer’s requirements ahead of your own needs. I found in my own sales career that if I focused on the customer, not only did my sales grow but I also made several life long friends. Walter did not have to wait 30 years to learn that lesson. When his customer found out what he had done to get to work, she is the one that shared the story on social media and said: “this is just the beginning of what she hopes is a long friendship between Walter and her family”.

Let your actions and your elevator pitch tell your story. Every job seeker has a resume and a LinkedIn profile. What really will separate you from your competition in your job search are stories. When Walter graduates from college, he has a game winning story to tell any potential employer. They will be lined up to listen and the job offers will be certain to follow. Before you ever start working on a resume or a LinkedIn profile, you first need to find your story and turn it into an elevator pitch. Who are you and why should I care? I am not saying you must walk 20 miles to work in the middle of the night! But reflect on your life to date and come up with the stories that shine a spotlight on your personality and your value to future employers. Take those stories and build them into your elevator pitch. The resume and LinkedIn profile will be a lot easier to develop at that point.

In closing, thank you Walter Carr for a great lesson this week. Your future is bright. And if we can learn just a bit from your story, our future is not looking too bad either.

Dan Troup is the founder of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a certified career coach can assist you in your job search, please contact AdvantEdge Careers at:


bottom of page