I sent this letter to the career center of my college, the incoming freshmen activity board, and the Literature convener. I also FWD'd a copy to the school newspaper, with the disclaimer ".... feel free to use my editorial but please give me credit and sandwiches, as, being a college graduate without a job, I am often very hungry."
Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at
Subject: Career Help
To: (Not Helpful Lady in Career Center)
Cc: (More Unhelpful People)
I graduated from [school] in May of 2009 with a BA in Literature.
Since then I have been encouraged by my family and friends to supplement my job search by contacting the career development center of my alma mater in hopes of securing a job with this very unique degree that I have been informed should not be used as a coaster no matter how nice the coffee table I bought from Target is. I've politely tried to remind everyone that back when they attended school, college was probably different, what with the lack of the Internet and it generally being a far superior source of information than geriatric hobbyists, but they seem adamant. Therefore, I've decided to meet them all halfway and email the career center and other offices of related interest, but only to make a few suggestions.
Having to write repetitive papers on basically the exact same topic for five years, I've learned you get a passing grade when you get right to the point. Without further ado...
You should hand out a pamphlet to all incoming Literature majors simply titled
"Don't Want To Teach? Then You're Screwed: A Unidirectional Guide To Being a Literature Major"
This pamphlet shouldn't be long, since the curriculum doesn't really allow for today's modern day college student to read anything in full anyway. In fact, I propose the cover to have bright, block lettering displaying concise directions so incoming students won't fail to consider it while balancing their impossible workload and full time job (which they need in order to pay for silly things like gas and textbooks.) The text should read as follows:
1) Want to teach? Open pamphlet.
2) Don't want to teach? Look at the back of this pamphlet.
Inside, for those willing to subject themselves to the general apathy of today's public education system, insert one of those convincing stock images of a Caucasian girl in her mid-twenties with minimal makeup and a bright smile, looking up hopefully to the sky. Have her holding a Virginia Woolf novel and her diploma. Across the silly square hat with the tassel, have the words "You're set!" Maybe add a rainbow in the background.
On the back, for those given vague promises of illustrious positions in the "Editing/Publishing field" --- the only viable option college ever presented to all Literature majors but never really explained in helpful detail---, copy/paste a .jpg of a multi-line office telephone, and in Times New Roman (double spaced, 12pt!) put a caption asking "Can you answer one of these?"
Since this pamphlet will be specifically designed for Lit majors, you needn't overtly explain that the Not Teaching option means their best bet is to look into being a secretary that pays $9.50/hr. After many years of reading Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" multiple times, all Lit majors are able to understand thinly veiled subtexts.
To be even more helpful, you could attempt dedicating a tiny section of [shitty school website] to Lit majors who came to college thinking it would be a good idea not to explore helpful majors like Business Administration, Nursing, and Burger Flipping. I think creating this specific page would be best left for the 705th overhaul of [school]'s official website, perhaps when more Flash, tabs, and slideshows of smiling kids in school sweatshirts have been added. On this page you could go into further detail about how understanding the impetus behind Henrik Ibsen's best work won't actually help them use Excel in order to create spreadsheets for their potential future employer(s) who just want a more organized way to categorize their collection of 80's Synth Pop.
Overall, creating more realistic expectations and less idealistic goals should be at the top of the [career]
Center's objectives list. I know helping kids construct resumes is a very important job, but more important is making sure the motivation behind developing them is "I have a great set of skills I honed in my years with [school]" and not "God, please, I'll work anywhere, except I don't actually know anything." The fact that my resume manages to fit on one page, is aligned correctly, and details my previous employment in fancy little bullets doesn't counter-act the fact that the last five years of my life have been less useful for me than the six months I spent in my junior year of high school learning how to type.
I'm assuming I won't get a reply, because answering direct statements/questions was never something any counselor/administrator/office personnel at [school] was ever any good at, but I'm hopeful and looking to the sky!
P.S. Do you want me to try to design this pamphlet for you? Since graduation I've taken up a variety of odd-jobs like dog walking, painting (walls, not canvas), and amateur graphic design to keep me living the high life of a college graduate. I'd be honored to give back to [school].
No reply from anyone at the college (or the local newspaper I sent it to) but I shall keep you guys posted.
Edit: The school newspaper contacted me within a few days, the career center ... "replied." The first response is the school newspaper. The second was what I believe to be a mass email (though if so, she BCC'd everyone else) from the career center that MAY have only gotten to me because they have my resume. It's not a reply, really.
Wednesday Oct 6, 3-4:30 PM
Looking for a career that matters? The Cahill Center for Experiential Learning and Career Services is hosting a panel program featuring representatives from various federal and state agencies to share information on career opportunities, requirements and tips for the application process. According to the Partnership for Public Service research (www.ourpublicservice.org), the federal government will fill more than 50,000 entry-level jobs in the next 12 months, along with about 60,000 paid internships. There are jobs and internships available for every interest, in all 50 states and around the world! Attend this program and learn about hot jobs and cool internships and how a career in government might be right for you.
For more information contact [the head of the career center person]