Posted by: Alice Inc. | June 18, 2009

Meet Katie (Our Harvard Branch) aka The worst… the opposite of the best

She's got a grip on her future.

She's got a grip on her future.

Name: Katie

School: Harvard

Major: Psychology

Status: Free Laboring

Fun Fact: She has a wedgie.

The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades! Alright fine, a visor. Egh, who are we kidding?  I’ll squint…its not that dazzling.

On June 4, 2009 I joined 6,777 other Harvard University graduates and was welcomed into the ancient company of educated men and women.  I was also welcomed into the company of the other 12.5 million Americans on unemployment. Great! The only difference between me and them is they’re still receiving a monthly stipend from the government, while I’m still making monthly payments towards the 11×16 paper that states “I am conferred as a Bachelor of the Arts in the field of Liberal Arts and Sciences”…whatever that means?

Of my graduating class, only 70% even attempted to look for a job and of those, only 59% were lucky enough to get offers.  At Harvard’s 358th commencement, more students had swine flu than employment. But with such a promising group of young, ambitious and intellectual elitists, where did the plan go wrong?  Isn’t Harvard itself supposed to be recession proof? One of our student orators declared on Class Day, “Harvard is an indestructible American brand—like Lehman Brothers, or General Motors.” As it turns out, unlike toilet paper suppliers, Anheuser Busche, and casket builders, Harvard is NOT exactly recession proof.

This harsh reality, however, was nowhere on my radar back in 2005 when I moved into my overcrowded dorm with the craziest and richest group of nerds I had ever met.  Back then “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas was the number one song in America.  Gas was $1.80 a gallon and Bush was President (Thanks Yale!). Back then, I was still the smartest athlete on my team, the tallest girl at my school, and the only person I knew attending Harvard.  Back then I had never gotten drunk at a party, flirted shamelessly, or had a hangover.  Back then, I thought I was unprepared and unqualified, but back then I was still convinced that I would be a millionaire by 25 simply because, well, how could I not with a degree from “the greatest school in the world”?  Either I would personally make my million or the husband, I was sure to meet in my Ec1010A study group, would.  Plan A- FAIL!  In fact, plan A was doomed from the start since I would never actually take Ec1010A, and instead, proudly switch my major from Economics to Psychology by November of my freshman year.  I would like to think it was because I had a premonition that a job in finance in the year 2009 would be a joke, but no.  Instead the supply and demand curve simply got the best of me, as well as bonds, utility, commodity, and the Bellman equation. New Plan: find millionaire husband in Psych 1703-Human Sexuality. Yeah, you guessed it…Plan B- FAIL! But, I still enjoyed the study groups.

Fast forward, its now 2009, and the once distant, harsh reality is slapping me in the face like my morals on a Saturday night, or a Sunday morning for that matter.  The Black Eyed Peas, who apparently HAVE managed to stay recession proof, still have the number one song in America with “Boom Boom Pow”.  Gas is now $2.85 a gallon and Obama is President (Thanks Harvard!).  I have managed to complete a degree in Psychology from the number one school in the world and I am unemployed.  Correction: I have work, but it does not pay.  As far as I’m concerned $0=unemployed.  Now lets explore the series of events that brought me to this unpaid internship.  It starts with Wall Street royally screwing us all and ends with me establishing standards for my Harvard degree.

In January, opting out of the usual E-recruiting shenanigans most of my classmates participated in and experienced anxiety attacks over, I literally sat down at my computer and Googled jobs that interested me.  My searches began with high hopes, including things like “legal assistant” or “Boston Red Sox internship program”.  After cold calling, literally about 45 lawyers all over the East Coast, and realizing I was about a month late with the Sox, I searched for things in “sports marketing” or “advertising”.  BAM got it! “Company seeks recent graduate interested in the fast paced field of sports marketing. Must be a leader, strong work ethic, and have high energy.  NCAA Athletes preferred!” One application, two plane rides and three interviews later the job was mine!  I accepted it.  There was only one problem, this wasn’t sports marketing. This was a genuine scam consisting of hustling coupons on the streets of Philadelphia.  Did I seriously just accept this job? Sure did.  Did I justify it by saying the economy is tough, its getting late in the spring, and at least it pays? Sure did.  Did I quit before I even started when I realized my over-educated butt was overqualified? Sure did. Plan C- FAIL!

Plan D- Become a wedding planner!! Plan E- Move across country and be a nanny!!  Plan F-Default back to being a basketball counselor at sports camps!!  Plan G- Stay in Cambridge and participate in psychology experiments for $10 at the B-School!! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!  Let’s put it this way, if the economy was as good as I was at creating plans that failed, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

So, what now?  I’m participating in an unpaid internship at an amazing company and I’m learning a lot.  I’ve taken a piss poor situation and been in a fortunate enough position to make the best of it.  However, while the average college graduate is supposed to be making $30,000 a year, I’m banking goose eggs.

By the end of this summer I may just forego the limiting possibilities that await me in the job market and choose to continue my education.  There is law school and business school, but as those become more competitive, I find myself exploring other educational options, like bartending class. This economy is handing me lemons and squeezing the life out of my hopes and dreams.  So, I will take my lemons, as a chaser to my vodka, and gravitate toward the one skill I have come to rely on; my ability to make one hell of a stiff drink.

And, you know, if this fail-proof plan, well,…fails, then I still consider myself extraordinarily lucky.  Because, as one of my classmates pointed out at graduation “Things could be worse.  We could have gone to school in New Haven”.


Responses

  1. But with such a promising group of young, ambitious and intellectual elitists, where did the plan go wrong?

    The day you applied to Harvard, sweetheart.

  2. HAHAHA… this was awesome!!! You rock. We are all so lucky to be here even if the economy sucks and people like you remind us to just laugh at ourselves and not take anything too seriously! Thanks so much for being you and loving life… I know I can always call up a quick Katie memory when I need a smile! Good luck with the job – just be you and you will be making that 30,000 (or millions!) asap when they fall in love with you! 🙂

  3. I don’t think I once saw you open a book freshman year. But this excellent piece of writing proves you are way smarter and more talented than we gave you credit for. Jokes on us.

    You have so much going for you besides basketball. I can’t wait to see where you take it from here.

    As a once idle ivy grad, all I can say is that the first year out is the most soul crushing and depressing time but it gets better from (and I didn’t have the benefit of blaming it on the economy). Once you learn it doesn’t matter what anyone else expects from a Harvard grad, only what you expect from yourself, you become totally free to pursue your dreams. And all those people who find “safe” jobs, well, they aren’t always so safe. Anything can happen, so best to find what you want to do. For the first time in your life, don’t listen to a coach or a parent, do what you want. OK, end of my rant.

    So when are you starting your own blog? I’d totally read that.

  4. Hi Katie. I enjoyed your post. I am a writer who is doing a story on the job prospects facing college graduates and I would like to talk to you. How about dropping me an email and telling me how I can reach you. Tom


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