It seems to me that we all get out of university with little to no idea of what the hell we’re supposed to do next, we are told some contrasting and small pieces of relatively useless advice (be yourself, do what you love, get a real job, have business cards, travel, get married, don’t get married, make lots of money, money isn’t important, choose a career, explore your options while you’re young, etc.) and then proceed to do the only thing we really can do to survive, which is take the only job that will hire us.
If you are extremely well connected and lucky, this may be an unpaid internship in the company of your dreams. (However, since it’s unpaid, unless you’re independently wealthy and can afford the ridiculous rent in the expensive metropolitan city where you undoubtedly must move to, you’ll have to get a paying job.) If less lucky, it’s probably a barista in Starbucks, or more likely, working the shelves in Walmart.
Here’s your latte sir! Oh I’m sorry, let me make you another one.
(DIE DIE DIE)
You then do this job, for a couple of years, perhaps able to save a little money, and begin to learn about all the things that NO ONE EVER TAUGHT YOU. Perhaps this is a rite of passage, some sort of universal, miserable life-experience hazing ritual, but seriously guys? No blanket university class on basic budgeting, taxes, tenancy, insurance, health insurance, writing a resume, interviews? I remember a class where I took care of an egg when I was like 14, but I’m not going to remember that when I’m 22. Things I will never use and barely remember about the REQUIRED maths course I took to graduate from a music degree are utterly useless in a situation where I am asked to figure out how to fill in a tax form, or explain what my weaknesses are without making myself either seem unrealistically infallible or just completely inept.
My 14 year old “husband” abandoned me and our egg baby half way through the project with an unpaid morgage and a new car. Hows that for some real life lessons?
Sometimes you’re lucky enough to learn quickly, to make small mistakes or get advice from people just a couple years ahead and make it out unscathed, but more often I think a lot of people just end up feeling like they’ve been pushed into the deep end of a swimming pool without armbands. Perhaps the drowning feeling is what they call “a learning experience”.
Four years in your barista job, you are now some form of a manager and you have very much decided that you don’t want to be working in this god-forsaken hell-hole any longer. But all you know how to do really well is talk to customers, order inventory, manage two college dropouts and your chomping-at-the-bit assistant and make a really good double espresso cappuccino, extra foam. Which is great if you want to open a coffee shop of your own, but pretty much useless for any kind of “career job”.
It seems that in order to get a “real” job, you have to have some experience in administrative work.
“I’m a manager!” you cry. “I am an administrator! I manage a small team.”
“Ha. No.” they chuckle, “We don’t hire anyone without at least 3 years of admin experience. Come back to us when you have more experience.”
“So which one of you is Pamela, which is Simon and which is, god, what was the black guy’s name?” “Oh god! Is it racist if I don’t remember the black guys name?”
Unfortunately, there are zero “real” jobs that hire experienced baristas and waitresses, or even managers of baristas and waitresses.
So you begin changing small things in your CV, putting in buzzwords, practicing interviews with friends. You start looking at everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, you have EVER done that might be rephrased in a way that makes you seem experienced enough for the field. Perhaps you took a class, or had a conversation or visited a foreign country but now that class is a full blown course, a degree even, that conversation becomes years of a relationship with a respected professional and that overseas trip a charity aid mission to help orphans, or something, anything to convince these suited gods to let you join their little club. You may be applying for a position in the lowest of the low positions, but you know, once you’re in, you’ll climb the ladder like the little monkey you are.But it’s all based on lies. Big ones, little ones, it makes no difference, you may have made it past the first barrier, but you are still just faking it, just pretending you’re something you’re not, just barely keeping your head above the water.
The truth is, there is no point in any aspect of life where that drowning feeling fully goes away. It’s all just pretending you have any idea what you’re doing, and consistently lying your way through interviews and parties until you start to actually gain a very small modicum of the experience you seem expected to have.
Everyone, from the lowest office worker to the Vice President is working very hard at gaining just enough experience at the job they actually do to be allowed to fake their way to the next rung of the ladder. God knows why. I hear there’s a golden Lexus at the top.
Public Parking? What are we, peasants?
Hell, anything beats spending the rest of your life serving ungrateful idiots coffee, right?