Do You Have a Velveteen Career?

This poignant children’s tale can teach us much about discovering our authentic selves and making the most our lives.

In The Velveteen Rabbit, a young toy rabbit feels different and less valued—less real—than the other
toys in the boy’s nursery. But when the boy starts playing with him exclusively, the rabbit suddenly feels
loved and appreciated. Later, however, as the boy recovers from scarlet fever, the rabbit is discarded for
a newer, cleaner toy.

Luckily, a magic fairy rescues the rabbit from the trash pile and takes him to the meadow where the real
rabbits live. There, she transforms him into a live rabbit, and suddenly he’s able to run, jump, and play
just like the other rabbits. Finally he is real.

Career Lessons from The Velveteen Rabbit

In the current job market, it’s easy to feel like the rabbit. Maybe your company is going through a
“reorganization.” Just when you’re feeling settled and loved and respected, out to the trash pile you go,
replaced by a younger, fresher, less worn-out newcomer.
Like the rabbit, your task now is to become more “real”—to discover work you’re passionate about and
an environment that truely suits you.
Here are three suggestions to help you in your quest:

  • Learn what’s “real” for you. What will give you “hind legs”? A brand new career? A job that
    affirms your key values? Work that allows you more control or influence? Greater work/life
  • Ask for help when you need it. Tap your network. In his search for an identity, the rabbit
    learned from others along the way: the Skin Horse and other toys in the nursery, the boy, and
    the magic fairy.
  • Identify your true “clan.” What field or work environment makes most sense for you? The
    rabbit never forgot his experience with the boy. But when he joined the rabbits, he knew he had
    found his true home.

Unlike in the story of the velveteen rabbit, there won’t be a magic fairy to rescue you, so you’ll have to
engineer your own transformation. But you do have it within your power to learn what you’re made of.
And if you follow your passion and connect with others who share that passion, you, too, can become
more real.

Dean R. DeGroot is a licensed psychologist career consultant and owner of Innerview Consulting. His efforts have
allowed others to gain new tools and insights and explore new possibilities for social and career connection. Dean
possesses a master’s degree in Behavior Analysis & Therapy from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He
has been involved in post-graduate work at the Carlson School of Management located at the University of
Minnesota. Dean has published journal articles in the UK on career practices. He is also Past President of the
Minnesota Career Development Association (MCDA).