Posted by: lazilox | May 31, 2009

Meet Rob.




I’m an arrogant sonofabitch. Always have been. Probably because I’m good at everything. Or at least I was. Except for athletic endeavors, which I’ve primarily blamed on my height: my biggest insecurity which I’ve covered up by a pretty sizeable Napoleonic complex that I’ve been working on for 22 years give or take (note: above).  Yet as I find myself dreading the eviction date that is my graduation from Cornell University looming, I should be resentful of the university that’s succeeded so well in attacking that complex by making its students feel smaller, dumber, and intellectually inadequate. Wait, I am resentful.

Let’s start at the beginning. Long story short, I had pretty much all the knowledge I would need until high school by the second grade. I was going to change the world when I invented that cancer cure, or designed that new space ship. My life’s goal was outlined explicitly by my Jewish parents: to get perfect grades, do a whole bunch of extracurriculars to flesh out that bottom half of my resume, all to get into the best college I could (and marry a jewish girl somewhere along the way). I didn’t have to think or study. What the hell did studying mean if you already knew the stuff? Thus, when all my friends started composing their college lists with neatly bulleted points that intended to differentiate all those different institutions, I sent out a bunch of resumes and copy/pasted the common app, eventually deciding on CU off a coin flip. I wasn’t disappointed; in the hour I had visited the school I had bumped into Bill Nye and he told me I should “definitely go here”. Why not? Besides, my goal once in college was the same as every other kid’s: to get as drunk and laid as often as possible within a four year window.

You know that speech everyone wishes their parents gave them, the “you can be anything you want when you grow up” speech? I hate that speech.  The only job placement test I ever took was  on a computer in high school, probably programmed on a commodore 64, proclaimed that based on the honesty in my answers I should pursue a career in either commercial fishing or astrology. So I did the logical thing: I enrolled in the arts and science school, so as not to limit my opportunities. Signed up for the math major because, well, I’m good at math. Then math got hard. No, not hard; math got useless. To actually complete the major, I joined the econ major as well, since I needed five upper level courses in blah blah blah for the people atop Mallott hall to check me off on their lists. Econ lead to business, and then voilà! I found something I liked!

I started collecting knowledge of finance, entrepreneurship, skipping accounting (there’s that arrogance again), and eventually found a place that I thought I was a perfect fit for. I could leverage my math skills and go into the extremely lucrative world of investment banking. Playing with money, I could have a salary that no fresh graduate should ever have, at something that was fun, and I was legitimately good at? Too good to be true. Just as the applications for summer internships went out, as the bulge bracket firms swung their sticks at the piñata that was the investment banking industry, it sprung a hole and shit started spraying out all over them and the rest of the world. That’s like (really bad analogy ahead) stepping out of law school clutching your diploma, and watching on TV as Obama passed some new Amendment banning law from being practiced. Oops. At this point, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that it’s still the industry I want to be in.

So as I leave Cornell, and I begin packing my intellectual baggage, I find myself coming up short. All the job-specific knowledge I’ve acquired is for a dying industry. All those complex securities I learned to build are ridiculed daily on CNBC as the item on the balance sheet of some poor, innocent, American company causing it to go under. My math major gave me the great power to compose a mathematical proof of the form: “If: obvious statement, …?, Then: obvious statement” (which usually nabs me around half credit).  Real useful tool. I used it just the other day in real life. Seriously. As for the econ major? Considering the fine print at the end of each chapter legally states that the economists that wrote the book have no idea what they are talking about, and that none of these theories work in the real world for inexplicable reasons… I don’t even want to finish that sentence. Useless. Wines might have been the most practical class I took.

Cornell University did do something for me. I wound up with a bruised ego, a general feeling of inadequacy, some unhealthy habits, a bill for some $180,000, and of course that quasi-justifiable pretentious elitism. That elitism that nags at you, convincing you not to take the entirely decent job because there’s a better one waiting. We are the best of the best here, right? So why won’t any of these companies call me back? And why do all my state school friends have jobs? Cornell has this lovely program for its engineers allowing them to stay an extra year, tack another line or two onto their resumes, and more importantly: be fully shielded from the real world for another year. So while my friends stay here for a victory lap, I don’t quite have that luxury. So, I’m just gonna have to start my own company.

Can I borrow some money?

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