October 19, 2010

The Good-Ass Job Hunt Begins

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Man, libertarians are so defensive! Who knew? So here’s the thing, dudes: I didn’t call you classist and racist because of some ridiculous Tea Party nutjobs. I wasn’t characterizing all of you based on some “radical fringe element.” I called you classist and racist because y’all believe in an inherently classist and racist political ideology. Shit completely ignores institutionalized prejudice and discrimination. An even playing field: We ain’t got one. Blaming poor folks for being poor is, that’s right, classist and racist. And Ayn Rand, man. She is the absolute worst. But I’m bored with this argument. I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

So this week, I had my very first ever real live job interview. Okay, that’s a lie. I’ve interviewed for things before. But like, part time positions. And unpaid internships. This was the real, take out my nose ring, cover up my tattoos, wobble around in ugly black high heels deal. I wore pantyhose, dude. Motherfucking pantyhose.

I’d never been in 203 Barnes before. That is maybe the most legit room (suite of rooms?) on this entire campus. Goldman Sachs paid to refurbish them. I read it on a plaque. I wandered in, all aimless and humanities major-y, looking lost. The guy at the desk was very friendly, and directed me to key my ID number into a giant, scary looking computer. Touch screens! Technology! I was already overwhelmed.

There were a couple other people waiting to talk to JP Morgan or 3M or the firm of “I will be so much more rich and powerful than you, Elana Dahlager.” They all had impeccable outfits and these fancy looking leather notebook holder things and chatted with the front desk dude like it wasn’t no thang. There I sat, looking like a 15-year-old in her mother’s clothes, with a beat up old bag I borrowed from my roommate because it looked slightly more professional than my backpack. A boy in a contrast collar gave me a look filled with genuine pity. So that was nice.

I lied about Ayn Rand before. Job interviews are actually the absolute worst. On a logical level, I understand that I’m going to have to put on my ill-fitting dress pants and say that my biggest weakness is that I’m a bit of a perfectionist and that sometimes I just try too hard about a billion more times in my lifetime, and about a million more times this year, but damn. All that intense eye contact and vigorous head nodding and explaining a challenge you’ve overcome is sort of exhausting.  I wonder how many times interviewers have to hear people describe themselves as tenacious and hardworking. I would keep a tally, I think. I’m not sure I could keep a straight face. And now I’ve just disqualified myself from another job. Guess I have to cross “professional interviewer” off the ol’ list.

I wish there was a way to just skip the applying and the interviewing and the terrifying waiting part. Like, I could get in a time machine and get out in the middle of next year, when I will somehow be employed.

I was pretty proud of myself before Monday, I’m not going to lie. I was patting myself on the back for sort of, minutely, getting my shit together. Now I’m just consumed with fear. There was a kid in that magical Barnes Hall room who was on his third interview of the day. I mean, I’m not exactly trying to get hired by a high-flying financial firm. For one thing, I am really bad at math. Also, I have a lot of liberal guilt chilling in my conscience (first-world problems, right?), so I’m mostly on that illustrious “low-paid public service” track. But jeez. I am so behind! Just to reiterate: Three interviews. In one day. A person my own age.

I mean, I’ve got a few other options. I started a blog once that got like three hits. I think I’ve got a real future there. I could start a band. I can almost sing, and sort of play bass. I am pretty good at the saxophone, and everyone knows that jazz bands are super popular and lucrative. Look out world, here I come!

I am going to die, penniless and alone, in my parents’ basement (my mom says, “Actually, the basement is kind of your brother’s hang out spot right now. I don’t think he’d like that very much.”) Guess I’ll just have to get a job, then.

Elana Dahlager is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at edahlager@cornellsun.com. Nutshell Library appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: Elana Dahlager