Thoughts from the Cubicle
I’m back with more wise words and overall ridiculousness served T-bone style. I hope you like your advice medium-rare. (I don’t know how to insert pictures, so enjoy the hyperlinks.)
It’s every student’s sweetest dream and most terrible nightmare—breaking into the world of money, responsibility and awful lines of traffic, or to put it more simply, finding employment. I guess you could say I’m one of the lucky ones. I didn’t have the added struggle of juggling my high school career with an actual job on the side. When I finally did work, it was only a part-time job during the summer between my junior and senior year. It’s a job I’ve had every summer (and now winter break) since.
What do I do? What don’t I do! (Answer: plenty of things, i.e.: flame-throwing and jazzercise.) I’m a file clerk at a law firm. Ridiculous, right? Were you expecting me to say I scooped ice cream or flipped burgers at Wendy’s? Sometimes I wish I did. How exciting it would be to serve grouchy customers and screaming children! But usually I’m pretty thankful for the gig I have going and praise the career gods that I don’t have to fold clothes at Hollister, mainly because I can’t see, hear or breathe in that store. Darkness, loud music and overuse of perfume should be kept to nightclubs and bingo night pre-gaming with the ladies from your knitting circle. Each time I talk to my friends about work, I grow to appreciate what I have more and really wonder why I stopped going to the knitting circle.
I get it. Our economy is still in the crapper right now and the unemployment rate is higher than anyone would like it to be. As a result, teens and young adults are finding it pretty difficult to find jobs. You usually don’t get hired without experience, but you don’t get experience unless someone hires you and takes you under their wing. It’s quite the annoying catch-22. I know plenty of people my age who would love to work (um, cause we have this thing called college to pay for and it’s pretty expensive, but that’s another topic for another day), but no one will hire them. How can I put this eloquently? It sucks. A lot. While a bunch of my friends will spend the summer looking for odd jobs or sending in application after application in the hope that someone will take pity on them and hand them an ice cream scooper and a red apron, I’ll be slaving away at my cozy job, feeling a tiny pang of guilt every time I get another paycheck. (But that miniscule feeling of guilt is usually overcome with a sigh of relief knowing that I’m feeding my very, very hungry bank account).
As for my friends who are lucky enough to have jobs like me, I’ve noticed a pattern to how we’ve gotten our jobs: connections. If any of you are unemployed, you’re probably going to curse at me through your computers when I say this, but I just want to be honest witchu. I got my job through connections; I didn’t even have to do a formal interview. It was “You want a job? We want someone to work for us. You’re hired.” Wa-bam! Sweet, sweet employment. The same goes for a handful of my friends. Connections, let me say this one more time. Connections. They seem to be how people are finding careers both as undergrads and as postgrads. I know CELS has already stressed the importance of “who you know,” but for my friends and the huge amount of other young adults who don’t have such connections, it’s a frustrating place to find one’s self.
If it makes anyone feel better, let me paint you a picture of my life with my file clerk position now and my life in three and a half years after I graduate college. Now: I file papers. I copy papers. I staple papers. I scan papers. I run to court. I run back to the law firm to get a paper someone forgot to give me. I run back to court. I have a cubicle. I have my own stapler. I have my own paperclips. It’s the life, right? No. There are days when I want nothing more than to Office Space-style smash the printer and copier, just bring them to an open field and let them experience my frustration in the shape of a mallet. My first day back at work the air conditioner exploded so it was hot as hell and a funky chemical was emitted, stinking up the place and probably causing some of my brain cells to wither and die. Because I drive in to Providence, the traffic sucks. And I have to pay for gas and parking. Though on the plus side, I get to work in Providence. And they pay me well. And it’s a low key job, so I can’t actually complain too much.
My life post-college: I will be living on a street corner, in a big ol’ city, huddled under my cardboard box fort/house/structure, strumming along to the three songs I know on the guitar with a Red Sox cap lying on the ground, collecting change. When I’m not doing that, I’ll be scribbling away on the sides of the box the words to my first best-selling novel. And by that I mean it will be a bestseller among the hippie crowd I’ll find myself living next to. I’ll eat tons of Ramen which I’ll heat up in my cardboard microwave and I’ll drink only when it rains. I sincerely hope none of this is true, but the point I’m trying to get across is this—I have no idea where I’ll be in three years. I don’t know if anyone will hire me. I don’t know what connections I’ll have. I don’t even know what exactly it is I want to do. But I know my first “real adult” job probably won’t be as cushy as the one I have now (unless I get real lucky).
So I guess my advice to anyone out there trying to find a job is this: keep trying because sooner or later it will pay off (literally). And if you can’t find a job, have a yard sale, sell your sperm, open a lemonade stand or write your own underground ’zine and sell it to angsty high-schoolers. All of these are good ideas, trust me. And never stop making connections because one day, it’ll pay off to know your crazy mailman’s cousin who runs that prestigious newspaper or your crazy aunt’s milkman’s brother who owns that law firm. Basically, even if people are crazy, they might know someone who’s equally crazy but has a good career. So keep lookin’, don’t lose hope and whatever you do, don’t try to heat up Ramen in a cardboard microwave. That’s how fires start.
This is the name on my resumé,
Just kidding. That would only get me hired at a motorcycle shop. Let’s stick with this one,