The “Post” Post-Secondary Oddity…

First, for those of you who follow this blog, let me offer my apologies for not updating this in some time. I have recently, and at long last graduated with my BA in Communications from Marylhurst University, and during these summer months before beginning graduate school at that self same institution, I am doing what countless other graduates spend their summers doing……looking for a job. Well…maybe “looking for a job” isn’t quite accurate. Ive had jobs, quite a few in fact, what im looking for is a CAREER.

In a perfect world, one would search high and low for the ideal job, apply, and then in a timely manner be told whether they were on a short list for said job. At that point they would either interview or continue their search. Alas…much like communism, the pet rock, or reality TV…this is only true on paper. The real struggle in todays world to attain meaningful employment, or indeed employment of any kind is a sisyphean task. The difficulty lies not in employment, so much as anything resembling meaningful employment. No, I’m not too good to pump gas, bag groceries, or mow lawns (which in the grownup world is simply called landscaping for the sake of personal pride).

Where my difficulty derives is that after a long uphill struggle to complete my degree; which including the money, time sacrificed with friends and family, the lack of social existence, and the sometimes skull splitting nature of the subjects, its hard not to feel a little…dare i say it…..entitled to meaningful work within my field. Now I’m the first to say that:

1) No one owes me a job

2) I’m not entitled to anything but the freedom to pursue the career I want

3) Admittedly this is a “first world” problem

But i digress….

What I find baffling are the sheer volume of pyramid schemes, brand ambassador positions, and direct marketing openings out there. I recently had an interview with a “public relations firm” in the Portland, Oregon area who billed themselves as a firm who “combines strategic promotional genius with professional campaign implementation”. “HAZAA!” I thought, I have arrived. I am being courted by a firm right out of college!

These dreams were quickly dashed when I arrived for my interview a full 45 minutes early, wanting to make a good impression. The office door was adorned with the company logo in bright colors…..on a piece of printer paper scotch taped to the door. “No worries” I thought, “Maybe they’re a startup or this is a satellite office or something”. Upon walking in, clad in my navy blue suit and “lucky” tie, I almost dropped my portfolio. The room was populated by about a dozen other people, many of them barely out of their teens. While I won’t go into the variety of hair colors and styles present (it is Portland after all, allowances must be made) the amount of cut off clothes and slack expressions were a quick warning sign for me.

The administrative aid (I use the term charitably) was busy watching a pirated copy of some movie or other and couldn’t be bothered to do more than point me at a chair. Shortly thereafter I was called into an office that was so spartan it would put most police interrogation rooms to shame. All it was missing was the one way mirror. In its place was a cheap gas station map of the US with push pins haphazardly placed around the country. My interviewer, an early twenty something with hair that had that just right look of suave and just rolled out of bed, proudly announced that they now had offices in all of the cities identified by the boldly colored pins.

At this point every professional “spidey sense” I had was going berserk, but as a man with bills to pay I forced myself to pay attention through his pitch with all of the focus I could manage. At the tail end of the “how wonderful it is to be a full time employee” for them speech, he soberly informed me that all of their employees “start at the ground level as brand ambassadors and work their way up.”

At this point, barely restraining the urge to slide off my chair in disappointment, I asked what products they were working with. “Cabinetry” he proudly proclaimed, as though this product was the next longer lasting lightbulb or cure to some here to fore unknown disease. I thanked him for his time, and headed out the door and down the hall quietly murmuring to myself about the injustice of it all. Passing a teenager in the parking lot, who’s mother had just dropped him off, he asked me if I knew where the marketing office was. I pointed him in the right direction and wished him more happiness with the experience than I had.

The moral to this story? Im honestly not sure that there is one, except to say this. If your job hunting, first set a line in the sand. Tell yourself “I will do this, but not that. This is what I’m prepared to accept” And do your best to stick to it.

Im fully prepared to admit that I may be approaching this from a biased viewpoint, but as with all of my posts, I welcome advice, experiences and wisdom from you all. Happy Job Hunting!



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