What can Disney teach us about college applications?
There’s a delightful story about Bill Peet, the author and illustrator who worked for Walt Disney, starting in the 1930s. After a brutal interview process—lasting over a month—he was hired, and was working on some Donald Duck short films as an “in-betweener,” making up the frames between the key drawings. One day, he had had enough. The work was too tedious. “No more ducks!” he yelled. Other illustrators took up the chant–“No more ducks! No more ducks!”—and marched out of the studio. One can only imagine what the residents of Burbank thought.
Peet thought he was done with Disney, but when he came back the next day to pick up his jacket, he found an envelope in his pocket informing him that he had been promoted to the story department, where he would put the words of the story-writer into pictures on the film. It was a big break, and the start of a sometimes-stormy personal collaboration with Disney that would last for over two decades. Peet went on to write and illustrate over 20 best-selling children’s books, like Hubert’s Hair-Raising Adventure and Kermit the Hermit.
It’s college-application season right now. Millions of high-school seniors are writing essays, taking SAT exams, and asking for letters of recommendations. It can be tedious, confusing, and overwhelming. At times, they may be tempted to run away, yelling “No more ducks!” But it’s important to keep coming back to the process, if only just to pick up your coat.
Sometimes, your big break is waiting for you, already in your pocket.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer