I listen to speculation on the entry-level job market with the same disdain that I have for small talk about the weather: No matter how comforting it may seem to quantify temperature within a single degree, everyone still has to walk outside at some point.
After all, if anyone actually listened to the weatherman and acted accordingly, then the world would be kvetch-free.
But there is no shortage to the amount of inquiries, anecdotes and two-cent suggestions that many of you who are on the brink of graduation will receive in the coming months. Some will be empty formalities, reassuring that things will, indeed, “happen.” As if three-to-five years of semi-vocational training will passively transform into a salaried position without any effort. Others will chide you for your ill-informed studies, challenging the very idea that one could, “open up a philosophy store.”
But above all, the absolute worst are those who let all graduates off easy. In an attempt to empathize, they will raise tirades about the state of the economy, outsourcing and unemployment with the same superstitious horror held in previous years for Y2K. While it may have been easier in earlier generations, no one can deny that the decision to go to school and join the race for college educated employment was ultimately ours.
Don’t get me wrong: There are many economic factors that will hypothetically play into our success as job-seekers. Yet not one is as vividly momentous as the transformation that many of you will undertake as you leave the sheltered halls of Temple.
For many of you, transition will come easy. Perhaps you’ve already found yourself in the proactive group of the will-be employed. Or maybe the threat of loan repayment – comparatively light as it is at Temple – does not loom over your head.
“No one can deny that the decision to go to school and join the race for college-educated employment was ultimately ours.”
More likely, however, you belong to that group of prospective graduates who simply has direction. You know exactly where you need to be and what you need to do to chase your dream career. “Finding yourself” is a lofty ideal reserved for elementary school English teachers.
That being said, my goal throughout the next few Op-Ed columns is not to publicly lament graduating with a bachelor’s of hopelessness, nor itemize the crucial “Steps 2 SuXcess” like some over-enthused motivational speaker.
No I couldn’t sway any students’ outlook any more than the Westboro Baptist Church could convince us that, in fact, God really is that hateful. I can, however, relate the story of my own pre-graduation aspirations, their eventual dissipation and the plateau of epiphanies, choices and compromises that may also govern your “post-graduation puberty.”
This column is for those of you who haven’t had the energy to fret about graduation, as you concerned yourself with your studies. Rather than telling friends and family the truth, that you’re “not actually going to find a job after graduation, anyway,” you may have given them your half-hearted attempts at justification.
But unlike your sixth grade gym teacher, I won’t crush your dreams against my own failures like an empty paper bag. I refuse to conclude the English department is really just a fast track to alcoholism and misanthropy. I would never tell you to find middle-management work at your local McDonald’s and dig-in for the long-haul.
Realistically, if you’ll graduate with a bachelor’s in a program in which you excelled at but haven’t thought past your next term paper, then you’re qualified for everything and nothing. The rest is up to you.
Joel Faltermayer is a Class of 2012 alumnus and will be contributing monthly Op-Ed submissions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.