Posted by: lazilox | July 28, 2009

How To Get Into Grad School In Two Weeks:

The Newsday classifieds seem to only have job openings in fork-lift operation. I wish I was kidding. Also, I wanted to add that I am sick to death of being scammed on craigslist. No, not the real craigslist, the border-line-legal sexual favors in exchange for goods and services craigslist (economists eat your heart out). The three latest replies I received from said job listings have gotten me the following responses, something along the lines of:

1. “Thank you for your interest in our company! We require all applicants to take a simple IQ test, which you may find here: LINK TO FACEBOOK-ESQUE CELL PHONE ADVERTISEMENT.”
2. A job that would require you to pay money to be trained and earn money solely on commissions. Read: Pyramid Scheme.
3. Thank you for your interest, but we are looking for someone with previous experience operating fork-lifts.

So I feel more comfortable about my decision to apply to graduate school. My original thought was that I didn’t stand a chance, as it was both late in the season (admissions office’s resume skeet shooting season), and my Cornell GPA didn’t get me honors, and I figured business schools required more than 0 years of relevant work experience. Low and behold, there exists the Masters of Science option, which is aimed towards recent undergrads. Realizing I was on my own fiscally, as my parents just forked over 200 grand to add to Dave Skorton’s swimming pool of money and opening my wallet causes flies to buzz out, I selected schools nearby that were cheaper and weren’t exactly what you’d call “reach schools”, as my guidance counselor in high school once so elegantly referred to Cornell. They were cheap, and hopefully, I could avoid rejection.

What really goes on underneath day hall.

What really goes on underneath day hall.

The title of this post is slightly misleading. It only takes 3 days to apply to business school, but the latter week and a half is waiting for the admissions office to sober up from sifting through parental bank statements, throwing darts at a map blindfolded, throwing stacks of resume up stairs, or whatever it is they do to decide how undergraduates get in to actually get around to finding your application amidst their junk folder. So I offer this, as a handy-guide for all my fellow idle ivys, on how to make it look like you’re doing something productive with your life while you wait for firms to realize either the help they hired was too stupid, or that three to six new people will not satisfy their need for expansion.

Application Season at the Admissions Office

Application Season at the Admissions Office

Day One: After filling out all the ‘who-are-you, do-you-really-exist, what’s-your-SSN-oh-that’s-right-Cornell-lost-it-well-when-you-get-it-back-let-us-know’ forms, shooting two emails over to a couple of the only professors that actually know who you are asking them to elaborate on how great you are, writing your statement-of-purpose (just tweak that cover letter from application season), you sign up for the GMAT. And pay $60. I mean, seriously, how much motivation would you need as an admissions officer to sift through all 2-3 applications sitting on your desk for graduate school? $60 worth sounds right.

Day Two: Study for GMAT. This can be rather difficult, especially if it is nice outside. The GMAT is just the SAT+, no I take that back, it doesn’t even deserve the plus. I couldn’t notice a difference in verbal sections, aside from the fact that all of the reading passages were usually business oriented, but the random African history stuff was still there. The math section is hardly math. As a math major, every skill I learned in college math was rendered useless. You could make the argument that my brain had gotten used to finding patterns and thinking abstractly just from sheer practice, but there was not one trick I learned that helped on the GMAT. I would have done better on the math section in high school, when trigonometry and remembering area/volume equations without a cheat sheet were skills I used often.

Day Three: Hang on, let me elaborate on this because I find myself getting angry even as I write about it. One of the questions had me summing all of the prime numbers between 100 and 200. This doesn’t test anything, aside from maybe ‘do you know what a prime is?’ or ‘can you add?’. There is no formula to find primes. If you find one, you get a million dollars. Thus, the only way to successfully answer that question, is to know all of the primes, use really weird methods I learned in number theory, like 4n+1 Pythagorean Prime nonsense which skips primes and eventually breaks down, or to tediously figure them out. On other questions, when using the tricks learned from a higher math education, I realized that there was no right answer and that the real answer required old fashioned plug-and-chug methodology. If you live in the tri-state area, take the GMAT in the city and go get drunk at the Cornell club afterward ‘cause it’s across the street. Then just wait for the phone calls.

One of the schools I got into threw money at me, but upon visiting the premises and noticing that the entire business school had half a dozen computers, and encompasses half a floor of a building, decided to turn that down. Good news is class is 2 days a week, and now I can continue to not get dressed until after 5pm and get drunk all day without feeling like my future is crashing down around me. I will most likely be attending Hofstra in the fall for an MS in Quantitative Finance, a program that claims to be prestigious by Hofstra’s standards, and has a total of 12 students. At least professors will know my name. Oh wait, that makes it really hard to not show up or to sleep in class doesn’t it? I’ll have to be a real, functioning person, but I have ‘till September.

Posted by: Alice Inc. | July 24, 2009

in lue of my loan payments, please accept these lifepoints.

I left you alone for one month, one single month, and look what you’ve done. I thought I could trust you, but no, I return to find GM auctioning off its bits like a multitasking hooker, the president pulling the race card for his homie from the hoo –arvard, and the king of pop in a relatively more severe state of death than he was when I left. You’ve really shit the bed, America. Next you’ll be telling me that there’s no more John and Kate. YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH WHEN YOU’RE TALKING TO ME.

That’s right, my gentle reader, I’ve just woken up from my month-long daydream that was Europeland. Like the many unemployed post-grad humanities majors that blazed the Ivy-ridden autopedescalator before me, I decided to put my hard-earned graduation gift-money towards exasperating my debt-pile while self-discovering in a slew of already forgotten dive bars, tourist traps, and many-a-hairy, smelly, non-english-speaking armpit.

While I never quite succeeded in discovering a primoridial-sized version of myself, spewing the answers to all my soul searching questions in the sangria-flooded streets of Pamplona, or in any and every bathroom in Prague (believe me, after consuming the au-de-fart flavored sausage in bulk, I gave each a thorough investigation), I did keep a diary of clues I discovered along the way — a sort of checklist of self-discoverlits that would confound anyone who dared to steal my iphone and open the Notes app. I’ve already considered its poetic genius, and I’m pretty sure Ginsberg would be all like, “No you di-int.”


Notes from Europe

To do: own money enough to buy flat in London. Do not: beat sister and mother in public space (hilar?) Truth: London porn stores are better organized, and owners = more polite. Inform Liana. I am a tourist who despises tourists. I call the pot black (wrong?). Good chance I am too big for London. Big ben = bell, big shannan = does not belong.  Tulip Skirts everywhere. Fish and Chips need tartar to add glory. I like outdoor markets. I also like Shakespeare, but not as much. Soho=wonderful in day, scary tall drag queens with track marks at night.

to do: Never be homeless. Increase sangria tolerance. name first born/cat Don Simon. Run faster.

If I learn to flamenco I will get laid. If I eat Churros and Doner Kebaps, I will not, but I won’t care. GOD Madrid sucks. Australians are an awkward people. Toledo day trip: I like cobblestone anything. learn to make mazapan and spanish cookies so someone will marry me. marry someone who can make mazapan. If all else fails, as long as I can stand still I can make money street performing.

Mallory and I plus 20 years and 1 sex change

Mallory and I plus 20 years and 1 sex change

Streudal, fart stick meat. make my own chocolate. Learn about: the eu, distillation process, bull fighting, ww1 and 2, get the mag the economist so i understand smarter people, start an online trading portfolio, watch layer cake, read/create blog about how to make money blogging. who is el greco? Europeans love terrible American rap. Become rapper in Europe.

Annddd Scene.

So, are we clear? No.

Truth is, I never expected to “find myself” in Europe. However, I whole-heartedly support using the self-discovery bit as a front for ensuring that you will never again suffer victory in a game of never-have-i-ever, and rather enjoy those long, drawn out pauses where you mutter, “what haven’t I done?” while holding your wine glass by the stem. I got to run with some bulls, sleep in a parking garage, drink a half a gallon of Hofbrau beer by the liter, and get crazier about my killer boyfriend. (Not OJ). I’m still in the red, but I’m definitely racking up the life points.

The other other crystal ball.

The other other crystal ball.

Also, I’m a little more relaxed now. I’m at least pretending I have a plan at this point. I’m planning to move to DC in September, hopefully live with a ladyfriend from college, and force myself on an employer like a rabbit in heat. Until then, I will suffer through another minor surgery, and celebrate my graduation with pin the insult on the inlaw and 3 hours of explaining to my aged grandfather that no, I don’t have a job, and no, I’m not going to bare children to make up for it. There’s nothing quite like adding cake to injury.

Posted by: lianaaa | July 9, 2009

Help me, Alma, you’re my only hope!

Superman graduated from Cornell and HE didnt have any trouble finding a job...

Superman graduated from Cornell and HE didn't have any trouble finding a job...

This morning at 10 I managed to get my eternally sleeping ass into an upright position (it took a lot of pillows and almost no actual muscle function) and called the ol’ Alma Mater for a career counseling phone session.

Now, in my experience and those of many of my friends, Cornell Career Services is largely kind of a joke.  It boggles the mind, why the University is closing down whole academic programs but continues to run CCS.  But for two good experiences, one with a student and the other with one of maybe two competent folks who actually work there, every time I went into CCS offices, I came out with exactly the same useless advice: Use the Internet.  Oh, you mean EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING THIS WHOLE TIME WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU AND WHY ARE YOU GETTING PAID.

I get the whole “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” thing.  I do.  They can only do so much before they’re cold writing your cover letter and fielding interview questions for you.  And I’ll even admit, I’m a hard customer to work with.  I’ve got weird interests that lead me to weird things, and responding to “What are your life goals?” with “I want to own a sex shop of magnificent proportions” can make things tough for a counselor.  But all I ever got out of those “counseling” sessions was a couple Web sites to check out and a pile of papers titled “What To Do With a Degree in the Humanities.”  (I still don’t know.)

This morning, however, I spoke with a woman who seemed like she genuinely wanted to help me out.  She asked what I’d been doing to search, where my interests lie (I was somewhat more reticent this time), et cetera.  Then she offered to critique my resume and cover letter–something they’d usually pawn me off on a student for–and to scan and send me a list of companies I might be interested in.  Sometimes it’s hard enough to find the damn opportunities, so this last bit was appreciated.

Now that THAT’S taken care of, it’s high time I rolled over for a nap.  Phone sessions?  Totally exhausting.

Posted by: lianaaa | July 7, 2009

Meet Liana.

With that face, shell go anywhere.

With that face, she'll go anywhere.

I’m Liana.  And I am an underachiever.

That’s me up there with the goofy-ass face, downright pleased as pie that I actually graduated.  Having done only enough to scrape by in four years, bouncing from major to major and finally settling on one that was fun, interesting, and like all the others, a huge waste of my goddamned time—well that deserves a thumbs-up next to the woman who once told me I wouldn’t make much of myself if I kept being so effing lazy.

This first entry marks my efforts to continue being so effing lazy while simultaneously searching for and avoiding any kind of gainful employment.

Following my lifelong pattern, it took me months after being invited to write for Idle Ivy to actually write something.  I feel a little bad about it.  But not too bad.  “Idle” could be my middle name, after all, so it’s only fitting.  You’d never know it, ‘cause I did a lot in college.  I got extracurriculars out the wazoo and spent most of my time en route from one to the other, but I tell you, ain’t NOBODY do idle like I do.

After May 24, 2009, I spent just over a month at my folks’ house in Delaware, making half-assed attempts at applying for jobs every few days.  I mostly stayed awake til 4 and slept til 1, sometimes glancing at job postings between turning pages of comic books and during commercials on Food Network.  Marketable Attribute #1: I am an incredible multi-tasker.

On July 1, I moved into an apartment in Manhattan’s glorious Spanish Harlem.  Here, I continue wallowing in unemployment and idle-atry, only my sleep schedule is somewhat more regulated and I carry mace wherever I go.  Marketable Attribute #2: I am always prepared.

I always thought that Cornell would leave me with no marketable skills and nothing but a piece of paper that doesn’t even say my damn major (which, by the way, was “Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies”—I never thought I’d actually believe being an English major would have served me better).  And to be honest…  Well, that’s exactly how it turned out.

My plan as it stands right now is to one day wake up to a mysterious voice in my head telling me exactly what I need to do in life and exactly how to pursue it.  I thought that’s what I’d get out of an Ivy League education, anyway, but I’m pretty sure they’re just really behind on sending out all the Voice of God notifications.

I’ll wait.  Pass the Cheetos.

Posted by: malpants15 | June 23, 2009

Cornell, ruiner of spirits, destroyer of credit.

Today Cornell literally lost my identity.  They did not think it was enough to beat down my self-esteem, tear away my financial freedom, and ruin me of my physical health; instead, they lost my ssn.  Someone in administration fucked up, ignored guidelines, and entered 45,000 people’s personal data, unencrypted, onto a computer.  That was then stolen.  I don’t know whether to put this on here or fml. Or my tombstone.

Posted by: lazilox | June 22, 2009

How to Stay Broke

Well, I’m out of money. I realized this fact upon rushing to the coin-star machine after discovering a bag-full of mostly pennies in my car, and realized that the amount I got for it probably didn’t cover the round trip of gas to get to the supermarket where the machine was located. I figured it’s about time I reduce myself even lower and look for a job with hourly pay as opposed to a salary with benefits. This is when things got scary.

When I asked a simple question of my friends from home last night, and unlike half the time I talk, did not actually expect them to look at me like I was quoting a proof from my computational algebra class (read: Math 476 – Useless Overly-Difficult Math). All I inquired was what on the island (the Long Island) was paying a decent salary for a summer job? After listing off a couple of options that might as well have been ‘stay broke, stay broke and stay broke’, I asked “well, is there anything that pays at least $10/hr?”. This question is what elicited the above response.

Cash 4 GoldI had known the economy was bad on paper, as every single econ problem set I did had some form of question involving a ‘recession’, and also due to the increasing frequency of cash-for-gold commercials. Even the Ithacan used car dealerships shouted through my TV that they were slashing prices due to these ‘tough economic times’, most likely by reducing the amount of razzle-dazzle to keep the level of hassle constant. What I didn’t expect was how bad the situation really was. My dad informed me that once-crowded LIRR trains are now either next to empty on peak hours, and that barely anybody riding the train wears a suit anymore. Thus, everyone’s priorities have apparently shifted and the jobs that are academically beneath me are no longer obtainable. At the average starting salary quoted on the “Come to Cornell!” statistics websites, $8/hr is less than a fifth of it, and I doubt could even support my current lifestyle without paying for rent. This statistic is probably hearsay because I don’t really want to go to the Cornell website to look up the declining statistics of matriculating students receiving jobs. Three years of working at Subway in high school taught me that that’s a sandwich per hour, and a salary I went to an Ivy League institution to never have to settle for again. At this point, I think I’d rather just be paid in sandwiches.

So, I’ve decided to do what any rational college graduate would do in this situation: hide. My bruised ego can’t take any more of the sick joke that has unfolded courtesy of Cornell; the arrogance it instills within you suddenly shattered when even the local Dairy Barn informs you that they aren’t hiring. I’ve got quite a headache from banging my head against the wall. So into the bomb-shelter of graduate school I go ::fingers-crossed::, surrounded by six feet of academia on all sides to shield from the fallout of the recession. I was actually quite against taking what I’ve referred to as a victory-lap, but it’s that or face the fear of looking my high school classmates in the eyes from behind the counter of a fast-food restaurant four years after peeling out to my ivory tower to win the rat race. I’m probably the one who made it such a competition in the first place, so I guess it serves me right.

There was one defining moment when I started my application process enthusiastically instead of listlessly. Upon researching the requirements of the various quantitative finance programs that were within commuter-distance to me, I learned that in order to graduate with an MS, students must hold a GPA of 3.0 or higher. I let an “uh-oh” escape, but my girlfriend added her two cents: “Rob, that’s regular 3-Oh, not a Cornell 3-Oh…”

A 3.0 is a B is ~85%. If I was told that I needed a B average in high school, I would have laughed, but the war against my self-esteem had been waged and apparently Cornell’s Math and Economics department emerged victorious. I realized not only do I need something that actually says “business” on my resume besides a few haphazard classes that didn’t even count as Arts credits. More importantly, I need my inner-confidence restored to its former glory (my outward confidence has not gone anywhere for those that know me), and perhaps attending an institution where getting 100% on a test and being the top of the class is once again feasible will do just that.

It’s late in the season, but thanks to rolling admissions I still have a chance. This will be the test to see how far a Cornell degree really does carry its graduates. Now I’m off to decipher what exactly they want in a “statement of purpose”, because I don’t think “hiding from the recession” is going to suffice.

Posted by: malpants15 | June 22, 2009

On the Use of Dicks in 2D

Me, loving fun.

Me, loving fun.

June 17, 2009 10:46 AM:   “I’m on dick picture prevention duty. The kids say I hate fun.”


I sat in the same high school science classroom in which I had once taken honors physics trying to prevent my brain from exploding, not from trig functions but because of the 25 teenagers calling each other gay and plotting to wang the entire room. I rapidly texted my friends during prep periods to make sure the outside world still existed and to make sure that no, I am not a miserable woman who needs to get laid. Or that I was, but that had nothing to do with me telling that kid he couldn’t go to the gym to play pingpong instead of doing his work. I had composed flawless lab reports directly where a pimply vocational school reject sporting gray jorts was uncovering his new tattoo: his last name vertically down his shin. When I yelled at him by name to get out of my class when he returned later that day, he could not figure out how I could have possibly known what to call him. “Really?” I asked, “You really have no idea? Blame it on parental consent.” This only served to further confuse him, so I explained that the lack of leg hair on his gams probably didn’t fool the local inskman. His nervous laugh told me I was still being too vague. “It’s tattooed on your leg.”

I have had many jobs that underpaid my skills, but none that actually punished me for my efforts. That is until I answered the 5:30am call to arms for a day at my alma mater. Piece of cake. I could finally read those books I skimmed through during finals week while 15 year olds, past those days of early onset boobs when deodorant was a new and oft forgotten routine, would diligently complete their study guides so that they would not fall behind while their poor teacher was ripped from them by some overwhelming disease. I’d be laid back, the cool sub whose witty insights to teacher’s former weight problems and acquaintances with older siblings would buy me relative calm and safety in the hall. Day four I had resource kids and managed to survive, so what could they throw me that could do any damage in a 46 minute period?

The call came as a favor. My former track coach had personally requested me! Great, another day I was paid to watch a math/science related television show for five periods. I knew my coach was a little lax in his rules, but after 7 days I had a reputation and moderate support from the chain smoking rebel underachievers that granted me mild control over my students. Period one some of the kids rolled in with breakfast, but they cleaned up after themselves and pretended to watch CSI. Maybe there were rules here and I was simply anxious about Grisham calculating accurate corpse decay through fly larvae. I was halfway to lunch when my five worst nightmares strolled in and wasted almost no time equipping themselves with permanent markers and tape. Review sheets? Hardly. These white pages were apparently made specifically for drawing inaccurately proportioned male genitalia and stuck so well onto the picture of the teacher’s daughter.

The only words that floated through the air involved dick, gay, or dick, while my sentences, composed mostly of stop, please, and I quit evaporated like so many tuition dollars. “Gay? Physics are gay? I believe you mean physics is gay, as physics is a proper noun for a subject and not the plural of a physic! Silly you. What? Oh grammar is gay? True, grammar has been known to canoodle with grammar of the same gender…No that was a joke pointing out your inability to come up with accurate adjectives…No, an adjective is a descriptive word, you’re thinking…You’re right, physics are gay.”

I attempted to discuss the complexities of the immigrant debate in response to a racial slur directed at a student, who instead of explaining its inaccuracies, joined in on his own mockery. After my brain turned back on, I repeatedly told one student whose face had lost to a staple gun to please find a seat, any seat, until he attempted to sit on my lap, at which point I was forced to choke back tears and assess how I could possibly have lost this much control and, more importantly, how the school had let these kids get so confident in their defiance. I eventually allowed a picture to be taped to the inside of a drawer, knowing I could take it out when the failed pull-out methods left, and placed my forehead firmly on top of my copy of Hemingway’s short stories. “What are you reading?” I had been asked. “Heming…Twilight. Totally better than the movie.”

The final bell rang and I sprinted to the office to sign out, glaring at the administrative representatives. I didn’t say anything though, because I had been taught not to sass authority. My classmates and I had, for the most part, respected our elders, even our subs, including the one who simply wrote “NO” on the blackboard and read his paper the entire class.  I was stopped, however, on my way out, not because someone wanted to let me know my tail was firmly between my legs but because I had forgotten my paycheck.  Finally, a beacon.  I tore it open with renewed vigor on my way past two greasy band kids making out next to the art room.  Compensation for my headache, for my failed efforts, for my avoidance of homicide!  And there it was.  $70 each day, pre-tax.  125 kids…that worked out to 56 cents a kid, not including hall duty when I tried unsuccessfully to prevent kids from leaving the building.  I suddenly had the urge to wang every car in the administration parking lot. 


Posted by: Alice Inc. | June 20, 2009

Home Sweet where-the-hell-am-I?

“Drive 400 Feet to Arrive At Your Destination.”

But the building in front of me didn’t exactly scream “Community-College-Auditorium-Appropriate-For-A-Little-Cousin’s-Dance-Recital.” Instead, it seemed to shriek, “Inner-City-Rite-Aid-Appropriate-For-Biweekly-Hold-Ups.”

My now twice-referenced visiting boyfriend opted to remain locked in the secure, mobile vehicle, and dropped me outside the doorway so I could ask for directions to Niagara County Community College. I took my place in line behind an elderly man with cowlicks in his ear, and listened to Jake, the overweight post-teen with an unfortunate craterface, tell him that his coupons were two days old, and no, he would not accept them, just this time.

I suddenly got weak-kneed from behind and turned around to discover a freckled, blue mouthed little boy holding coloring books in his sticky jamhands. The intensity of his Carrie glare evoked The Bad Seed, and I found myself considering the legal repercussions of masing a minor. His mother, or sister, or some combination of the two emerged from the party aisle with a whimpering mini she-devil, who apparently suffered from delusions of rampant ants, and was doing her best to stomp them away with each step.

“buh- buh- buh mooooommmm i NEED it.”

“No, ya know i duhn’t git my pee-aYcheck intle the week ee-after neeaxt” she said, in that gut-wrenching South Buffalo accent I had spent the past four years My-Fair-Ladying out of my own voice. The she-devil went into a fit of ant stomping as I noted the three blue stars tatted on her mother’s neck. I wondered if the blue of the mouth of her persistently-staring son was just as permanent.

When I finally had the pleasure of speaking with Jee-ake, I discovered the Garmin had dropped me off about 15 miles from my purported destination. I got to the dance recital just as my parents, who, per usual, had shirked the responsibility of phone charging, walked out of the auditorium.

“But, Shannan, it’s NCCC,” my dad said, baffled, “How do you not know where NCCC is? You grew up here!”

He was right, sort of. Since I’ve been home, I’ve used my Garmin more than my toothbrush. That’s right, sanitation < electronic security blanket. I’ve gotten lost going to practically every popular place in Buffalo and my home-suburb: the art district, downtown, the casino, and a slew of restaurants ranging from 5 to 30 miles from my house. I’ve even been lost going to Canada. You know what the directions are to Canada? North.

The truth is, I didn’t grow up in my home-suburb. I didn’t even grow up in Buffalo. I can’t even give you a rough estimate of exactly where I “grew up,” and yet, I’ve never moved from the same blue house, with the same broken basketball hoop, that I was brought to from the hospital where I was born.

Try to follow this: My house is located in the mystical land of Lockport, a pretty self-contained community outside of Buffalo, known as the home of widest bridge in America, a 1996 Junior Miss contestant, a system of locks in the Erie Canal, and a public high school with a pregnancy rate that fertility clinics envy. This latter, rather remarkable statistic instilled in my mother the fear that you could, in fact, catch pregnancy at that school more easily than MRSA in gym class, and thus encouraged her to send my sister, brother, and I to a private school in Buffalo at the age of 9. It was the type of place that, if you were to step into school with a skirt three inches above your knee, 4 generations of old money would be notified before third period. My best friends from school lived in South Buffalo, Lewiston, Niagara Falls, Amherst… and the list goes on. Summers I spent playing travel basketball, or injuring girls under 5’10 in a plethora of sports camps, never spending more that a few weeks at home. To top it off, I was on three different sports teams outside of high school that practiced in various cities across Western New York. I partied a bit, but, as a hardcore athlete, I spent most of my high school career swapping more same-sex ass slaps than opposite-sex saliva. I was friends with everybody, but close with very few.

College only served as a catalyst for my ostricization from my supposed hometown. Because I played basketball, and therefore was awarded no winter break, I spent a total of about 5-10 days home a year — the entirity of which I spent crying over how much coach would make us run in our first practice back. The summers after my sophomore and junior years, I did what any responsible college student did — I interned for little to no money. Because Buffalo beat this country to an economic meltdown by about 50 years (read: we still rave about how we were the first to get electric street lighting), I shipped myself off to Boston to be with my bro and best friend.

So, while other jobless folks announced they were going “home” after college, I simply remarked that I was going “back to Buffalo.” I know next to no one in Lockport, and thus have never really considered myself its citizen. But, am I really from Buffalo? Sure, I know my Mighty Taco order, I’ve at least been to Anchor Bar (and ordered chocolate milk), I know that the bars are open until 4 (but have rarely experienced them after 2), but I seem to lack the minimum requirements of being FROM buffalo.

I don’t like hockey. I don’t own a single piece of Bills clothing. I don’t know how to get to Elmwood, Ave. I don’t even know how to get to my high school anymore. The people I run into from high school look at me like I’m a ghost, ask about my mom before they ask about me, and have a general look of apprehension in their eyes, like I might evaporate.

There’s a new block in my block. A whole street, complete with a pond and new, shiny bikes, ridden by new, shiny children, that just popped up while I was gone. So, I can’t be here anymore. I’ve decided to move. After I get back from Europe, I’m going to start looking for apartments in DC, and move down there to look for a job. At least I’ll know people there, and, if I get lost, I’ll always have my GPS.

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”.

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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