Orange Rhymes With: Planning ahead and preparing for the worst

ORANGE RHYMES WITHWe all enrolled in college to get jobs.

Also because we had no idea what to do next and just followed the nearest societal expectation in the hopes that it would pay off. Mostly it was the “jobs” bit that brought us to this point though. This is incredibly unsettling considering that most lectures in my business courses revolve around the fact that the job market for recent grads is about as healthy as Nic Cage’s career.

Oh yeah, guys, it’s going to be one of those columns.

In one of my economics classes the other day we discussed a paper that suggested that most low-skill jobs will be automated in the future and lucrative positions will only be held by the top 10-15 percent of the highest achievers. I’m not going to try and dissect that argument, precisely because I’m not in that elite 10 percent.

That’s not pessimism on my part either. I’m decent at most of my interests, sometimes better than most. However, once you realize there are countless other grads who majored in the exact thing as you — many of whom are either more talented, have better connections or went to a more prestigious school— it becomes harder to assume that the Job Fairy will stop by your house first thing after commencement. The bottom line is that unless you can somehow channel the spirit of Ferris Bueller, few people in life will give you things just because you ask for them.

For me, this means I’m probably not going to waltz onto Wall Street the second graduation is over — or ever.

Honestly I’ve come to be okay with that. To me, the idea of a corporate job is about as a appealing as a lifetime career with the Department of Motor Vehicles. I have two nice dress shirts and maybe a tie or two that I only use on dates and job interviews. (Okay, so just job interviews.) The only reason I’m able to get away with this is because of the startling contrast with my normal attire, which generally consists of socks and a hiking jacket. (Pants preferred, not required.)

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I can’t work a job where the employees are expected to dress like the cast of “Mad Men” every day, mostly because I can’t afford it, but also because I’ll lose my secret weapon of business casual.

Most students I know, excluding future chemists and engineers, have come to accept the abysmal job market as a given. It’s become a running joke to casually mention that all graduation gets you is a whirlwind of uncertainty and a fancy piece of paper. Somehow we’ve all realized that we’re in the same boat and have decided not to stress about it.

I guess there are just two very distinct groups of people in this world. Some people seem to be born with a detailed agenda of life goals and blow through life as if there was an Acme rocket strapped to their asses. I, on the other hand, never got that detailed instruction manual, and therefore behave as if I woke up blindfolded and abandoned on the outskirts of Vegas. Most of my life consists of trying to figure out what just happened, why it happened, and how to keep it from happening again. And while I’m pondering these questions, something else generally happens which starts the entire cycle over again.

The world is daunting when you look at it as a homogeneous battlefield for employment. You’ve got to find a way to narrow the playing field so you have a fighting chance. So find a niche, some subset of the job market only you and five other people can fill. Then cross your fingers and hope like hell that those five people got caught in traffic on the way to the interview.

For example, statistically speaking, I’m never going to be one of the top-1 economists in the world — in all fairness, I just made that fact up, which kind of proves my point — but thankfully economics is not the only thing I do. The goal is to find a way to combine a few more of my interests to make myself indispensible to a potential employer. So the second I find an open position that requires a business degree, experience writing quasi-funny things, a topical knowledge of environmental issues and an interest in camping, I’ll be all set.

So you know, no sweat. Until then, you can find me at Village Inn, tweaking my resume and binging on all of the bacon and eggs that they have. Feel free to join. Somehow we’ll figure this thing out.


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