It’s quickly becoming that time of year where I begin making the difficult decisions that shape my summer months. Who signs my paycheck? Do I stay in a tent, or is someone in an apartment kind enough to lend me a floor? Should I continue using my lava lamp and shag carpet after college, or is it time for them to find a permanent home in the dumpster behind East Hall?
Given that the thirty some internships I applied for didn’t call and the state economy is in the toilet, the prospects for summer employment aren’t exactly as lucrative as I had hoped. So far my interviews have consisted of a former landscaping employer that had me picking junkies’ needles out of the bushes in shopping center parking lots, and a job that would require me to spend eight 24 hour days in the wilderness while only paying me for ten hours a day. When you start seriously considering employers that have clearly screwed you over in the past, you know you’re in a bit of a bind.
At least so far I’m not at the level of last summer, which consisted of frequent camping trips that were partly motivated by my love of the outdoors but more so focused on not having to ask a friend for a place to stay that evening. As much as I appreciate generous friends, I need my own place to stay, if only so that I can blast some 90’s music while I’m in the shower each morning without fear of angering roommates with poor musical taste.
I’m not really worried about the summer yet; as dramatic as I can be, it’s not like I’m in danger of starving. That being said, one might expect that after four years of college you’d be able to find employment in a field other that “lawn maintenance”. The one solace I’ve found is that I don’t seem to be alone in this predicament. A simple poll of other economics students in some of my classes revealed that of those graduating this semester most are working as construction laborers, roadside flaggers, lifeguards, and wait staff at restaurants. The point being that none of us seem to be emulating Dicaprio in the Wolf of Wall Street for our first jobs out of college.
I’m at the point where I’ve started to consider alternative lifestyles in lieu of traditional employment. A friend of mine bought a bike the other day from a guy that lived in what he called a “Jambulance”, an ambulance retrofitted into a camper complete with four burner stove built with the intention to jam. I’ve even got a professor who, by his own admission, lived in a school bus for a few years after college to save on living expenses; and the closer I get to graduation the more I being to think that he may have been on to something.
On the other hand, I’ve got an old friend from high school that disappears off the radar for the majority of the year to live the hobo lifestyle, only emerging once or twice annually to post pictures of the trains he’s been hopping. Judging by the incoherent jumble of things he posts to social media, I’ve been able to piece together that he’s been living in a hippy commune, got lice from buying a used sleeping bag, and seems to subsist solely on can of beans. If there’s a point to this incoherent rant, it’s that there may be an advantage to staying in that happy medium between granola outdoorsman and off the grid social hermit.
How that helps me for the upcoming summer is unclear. At the moment, It’s looking like I’m either going to be making the lawns of Anchorage look fantastic for the only three months in which people actually care about that sort of thing, or groveling for a bussing job in the hope that the tips would make it worth it. These aren’t the best prospects I’ve ever seen, but it’s also the end of the world. Luckily I have a girlfriend that, for some unknown reason, really hates the thought of me living out of my car and tent and subsisting off beans for another summer, so she’s graciously offered up her floor in the meantime.
If there’s any point to this it’s that I suspect that I’m not the only student facing abysmal job prospects and there’s got to be some small comfort associated with seeing your own fears and worries printed in a newspaper by someone else.
So if you’d like to hire me (or clothe me, feed me or house me for that matter) then by all means, send out a smoke signal to get my attention. Or just continue to read the hilarious side effects of my attempts to break into a job market that doesn’t involve consistently sweating through my shirt by midmorning. In either case, good luck out there; because it’s looking like lean times for the foreseeable future.