November 10, 2005

I need a job and a retirement plan

I recently discovered that you can’t actually spend your entire life discussing Bourdieu and drinking $1 milkshakes. It turns out that when you’re a fourth-year, you’re supposed to find a “job.” A “job” is whatever you do after you graduate, and it’s a lot like college, only you aren’t allowed to take naps in the middle of the afternoon. Jobs sound like a real step down to me, but I hear they’re all the rage these days.

My parents are very intent upon my getting one of these job things. They talk about it a lot, as in, “Did you hear Joan’s son already has a job?” or, “Jobs are the most important things since the invention of indoor plumbing,” or, “I swear to God, Leila, if you graduate without finding a job, I will kill you.”

I pointed out that I spend at least an hour each week in the Decision Research Lab, thus earning a full $10, from which I obtain significant use-value when I buy $10 worth of candy bars. But my parents told me that completing psych studies doesn’t count as a profession. Professions apparently provide you with dental coverage and private cubicles, not just Kit-Kats.

Thus prodded, I went ahead and scheduled my first Career and Planning Services appointment. “What stage are you at in your job search process?” asked the receptionist when I called.

This sounded like a trick question. My parents had failed to mention anything about “stages.” Suavely, I replied, “I’m at stage two.”

There was a long pause. “What do you mean?” the receptionist asked.

Damn. “Why don’t you tell me what the stages are,” I suggested, “and I’ll see which one sounds most like me.”

“Well,” he said, “do you know what field you want to work in?”

“Yes,” I answered defensively.

“And what field is that, then?”

Oh, I was so busted. “What field?” You know, the profitable and fun field. That one. The one where they let you take naps in the afternoon. Could I tell CAPS this? No. “It’s a secret,” I finally said, lamely.

I could hear the receptionist sigh and type something. Probably, “Girl is crazy/unemployable.”

Which is really too bad, because I was so hoping to dazzle CAPS with my employability. I’m convinced that they have this drawer filled with jobs, and if you seem super nice and deserving, CAPS will fling open the drawer for you and hand you a ready-made profession. If I don’t get a job from the magic drawer, frankly, I’m not sure where else to look.

No one opened any drawers for me when I went to my CAPS appointment. Instead, they were like, “So, you want to work in a secret field?” Then they went on to skim my resume and pronounce it “too long.”

CAPS is obsessed with cutting down resumes. They seem to have this idea that if your resume were just a little bit shorter, employers would suddenly come beating down your door, begging for the opportunity to pay you $50 million a year. CAPS’ ideal resume is approximately one line long and includes, at most, your full name. The primary reason why I don’t have a job, according to CAPS, is not because I have no marketable life skills, nor is it because I never apply for anything—no, it’s because my resume takes up two whole pages.

It seems counterintuitive to me; like, you spend your entire college career gaining work experience, which you then aren’t allowed to include on your resume because that would make it too lengthy. But, really, what do I know? I’m just that girl who doesn’t even have a retirement plan.

And if you believe you don’t need a retirement plan by the time you’re 21 years old, let me tell you, you are sorely mistaken. I am forever meeting these econ majors (they are always econ majors) who are like, “Most of my funds are in bonds right now, but obviously I’ve had my Roth IRA since I was a high school sophomore.” These kids have already been offered 10, maybe 20 jobs each. Their primary concern is maximizing their 401k. Whereas I basically want a job that will allow me to afford some high-end chocolate truffles.

In addition to totally laying waste to my resume, CAPS recommended that I search Monster for job postings. I wasn’t necessarily opposed to this—I mean, I do love the internet—but I soon noticed that every company wants motivated self-starters who work well in groups and have 8 bazillion years of experience in the industry. I don’t know ANY motivated self-starters. Who are these people? Robots? Extraterrestrials? Mature adults? How am I supposed to compete with that?

It’s obvious that I should give up immediately. I’m going to take a nap.