Posted by: jstark52 | June 18, 2009

Meet Joe.

He's larger than his income.

He's larger than his income.

Name: Joe

Major: Econ, Minor in Italian

Status: Unemployed

Fun Fact: Fell into a Cornell gorge and survived. Also, enjoys novelty pants with 39″ inseams.

Hi, my name is Joe. I know that is the first line you learn in every introductory language course and I apologize but, to be truthful with you, I have never really been that great at introspective writing about myself. What I do have a lot of experience and skill with, however, is complaining. For instance: I am currently on a flight home to California and, while we have yet to take off, a 5’1” trophy wife took the last exit row seat with leg room. Not only am I upset  because I am 6’5” and must use all the skills of a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to get into my seat (minus the creepy laughing baby) but, I am also fearful her weather-balloon size implants will get stuck in the emergency exit hatch, thus impeding my route to safety.

Also, if you were to hazard a guess as to how many babies and toddlers there are on this flight, what would your answer be? I am not that sure either but, if you said “Enough that Angelina Jolie might be flying Southwest” you would be correct. (How many has she adopted at this point? Three? Twelve? Uganda?)

So, you ask (or not, I am answering whether you asked it or not), why am I going back to California? Am I going to work for Google? Do I have a part in an upcoming movie? Am I going to become a hippie and live off the land until my parents cut me off? My answer is: no, no, and…kind of. I am going home to live with my parents because I do not have a job.

That’s right, after four years of Ivy League Education™, a degree in Economics with a minor in Italian, and 160,000 dollars (or 160,000 dollari in italiano) I have absolutely no job prospects. Not for lack of trying either. At the beginning of fall semester this last year, I applied to every finance and investment banking job under the sun. I was set to graduate with a pretty good GPA with a major in Econ from one of the top institutions in the country…then the economy went completely to shit. Instead of merely canceling interviews, banks just plain disappeared or were bought up. Hell, at this point I’m more likely to become an investment banker if I apply to a government job.

So, then I had to get creative. I could do finance and consulting jobs for different companies, maybe even branch outside of the direct connection to finance. I had an Ivy education, right? I scored an interview with Abercrombie and Fitch, as in the publishes-a-magazine-that-is-basically-soft-core-porn-with-a-homoerotic-undertone-as-subtle-as-a-Michael-Bay-movie Abercrombie&Fitch. For both the informational session and the interviews, they made sure to stress that we dress “Abercrombie casual” or “Thirty year-old who hasn’t realized he’s not in high-school anymore and creepily hits on eighteen year-olds.” I diligently resurrected my pink A&F polo from where I’d banished it in the recesses of my closet and wore jeans with a torn knee and stylish fading…the only thing I lacked were pooka shells. After trying to convince myself I wanted this job and dressing like a Jonas Brother for five years would be tolerable, I prepared myself for my interviews.

At the end of the second interview with their main recruiter, during the Q and A time that they always have, I asked him what his least favorite part of the job was. His response is still burned into my memory: “When you interview someone that you think is really awesome (nice cool kid lingo, bud) but, you just know that they’re not right for the job.”

Wait, are you talking about me? You are, aren’t you?! Um, hold on, I can make my outfit douchier: I’ll pop my collar and spike my hair more! Was my response to the blatantly obvious psychoanalysis question wrong?I was just kidding about my proudest accomplishment! My truly proudest moment was the first time I decided I wanted to work for a company that would allow me to pose shirtless at the entrance to their stores! No? Oh well, there are always more jobs on the horizon…oh crap. (Sidenote: I have just discovered that this flight takes credit card for beer, wine, and spirits. My flight attendant and I are about to become best friends.)

Not that I am alone. According to an oft quoted (on this blog) David Skorton graduation speech, only 20% of all college graduates this year have secured jobs. This is all well and good but, are we not supposed to be among the most well-educated and intelligent of the college graduates? I find it hard to believe and extremely depressing that his speech had to largely deal with the failure of Cornell University to help us secure the careers we worked so hard for. Which, is not to say I did not enjoy graduation immensely (hell, I even thought Skorton’s depressing speech was much better than our convocation speaker, David Plouff’s speech on “Uh…try to balance work and personal life, I haven’t figured it out, but you should. Oh, and we created this mess, now it’s up to you to fix it”).

As you will no doubt be able to tell from whatever picture of me goofily smiling on graduation that Shannan chooses for me, I was extremely happy. I was also pretty sure, based on what our professors were wearing, that I was graduating from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: there was a warrior mage with a sword and a top hat, a supreme sorceress with a magic scepter on stage, Professor Snape, and Senator Palpatine. In retrospect, I probably should have known when I registered to take kung-fu and wound up in Defense Against the Dark Arts (Sidenote: holy god, Perkins, as I’ve decided to name my flight attendant, makes these gin and tonics strong).

More telling for me than his graduation speech, was what Skorton asked me at a gala for the graduating seniors. I remember quite vividly, a man in an ill-fitting suit (come on, we know how much money you make, you can afford a tailor) comes over to my group of friends, shakes our hands, and asks each one of us what our plans are after graduation. My actual response was that I was figuring it out. What I really wanted to do, however, was punch him in the face and ask for a refund. That’s how things usually work in the real world (minus the punch to the face for asking a dumb question): if they do not deliver as promised, they provide you with a warrantee. I want a warrantee. If a Cornell Degree doesn’t provide me with a career within the next six months, I (or, in actuality, my parents) get a refund.

So, I hope this gives you a brief insight to my current state as an Ivy League graduate: elated, accomplished, an utterly jobless. I also hope that you keep coming back for more bitter, existential reflections on pre/post-graduate life. I can promise you, I’ve got some fun stories to tell…though, half of them cannot be published so, you may have to meet me in San Francisco and buy me a drink or twelve first. (Speaking of which, where did Perkins run off to? There is no way I’m dealing with screaming baby on an airplane while sober).

A presto,


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