September 17, 2013

FISCHER: A Career Fair For All?

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What two things do the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the Cornell University Police Department and the online television streaming company, Hulu, all have in common? Well, first of all, all three groups were represented at yesterday’s Career Fair located in Barton Hall. Secondly, all three organizations were advertising jobs for which I am vastly unqualified. Apparently, an expected Bachelor of Arts (and crafts) does not qualify me for a position as a “Software Developer — Intern” at Hulu, as a “Patrol Officer” for CUPD or as a “Research Scientist” for Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (nor would I have any idea how to obtain those jobs if I were somehow qualified). Instead, it seems like we humanities majors are being pigeonholed into the ignominious positions of marketing or sales associates when considering most of the corporations represented at the Career Fair.

Although there are a number of fields that those of us in the Humanities ilk of academia could possibly go into, it seems that such jobs are too scarce to be represented at the Career Fair. Either that or there is a studied indifference on the part of the Career Office to provide opportunities for humanities students to get involved in the media, entertainment or other relevant industries.

Yes, the typical stalwarts of Teach for America and the Peace Corps were represented at this year’s career fair, but there is certainly a dearth of other options for humanities majors outside of being a “corps” member. Although stopping by the CIA table was fun, I don’t really see myself as James Bond (or even one of his peons). And, if the hypothetical security clearance people are vindictive, I definitely won’t work there after writing that sentence.

In writing this column, I am not bemoaning a supposed lack of jobs for humanities majors (although there are definitely fewer well-paying jobs, statistically speaking). Rather, I wish that there were a greater effort on the behalf of the Career Services Office to educate us about potential career options. I feel like the perverse implication of future success as a coffee shop worker has permeated the mindsets of humanities majors and has clouded our ambition for more intellectually-involved occupations. I hoped that the Upperclassmen- Club-Fest-like atmosphere of the Career Fair might remedy this, but I was unfortunately disappointed.

I am, however, encouraged by the dull thrum coming from the backyard of Goldwin Smith Hall. Klarman Hall — the under-construction, heralded atrium of Cornell’s ancient temple for the humanities — promises to bring a humanities focus back to the Cornell campus. Although I may not ever attend a class in Klarman Hall, I feel confident that the construction of this building will bring more than just another jeweled atrium for our campus’ (almost) perpetual winter.

Although it seems rather idealistic to say that the construction of a simple atrium with 124 rooms, a large café and the largest auditorium on the Arts Quad (330-350 seats, fun fact), I believe that this building will provide a safe haven for marginalized Arts students everywhere. Although it’s not quite the same as having non-finance employers at the Career Fair, it’s a pretty good start.

David Fischer is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at [email protected] Fischy Business appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.