Archive for June, 2008

As a recent college graduate, this post from Amanda via the Big Blog Swap hit pretty close to home.

You’re graduating in December? What are you planning to do after that?

I hate this question.

It’s up there with “Where are you going to college?” and “What are you planning on majoring in?” The problem is that adults want a succinct answer to all three questions, and I only have the first two down.

Well, Uncle Ted, I only applied to school such-and-such and I got in, so I’m obviously going there.

Or:

Oh, Aunt Edna, you know my passion has been biomedical engineering, so clearly I will be following that path in college and for the rest of my life.

I have no succinct answer for the third question, and it won’t be easy to find one. It took me months to figure out where I was going to college, and I only recently discovered I don’t want to have a job associated with my chosen major. I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with the rest of the year, let alone the rest of my life.

Actually, that’s a lie. I do have some idea, but it’s so hard to explain.

I’ve been obsessed with theater and performing arts my whole life. There wasn’t a summer I didn’t attend theater camp. I went to a performing arts high school where a whirlwind three days in Stratford Canada — we saw six shows in those three days — was our biggest field trip of the year.

By senior year, though, I started watching way too much television. I started feeling a little tired of auditioning for parts I never got and I took to heart a comment my playwriting teacher made about my play reading more like a sitcom pilot. I decided, almost on a whim, to abandon theater, to major in television and film.

I interned in that field, and I took classes like “The Business of Hollywood” and “The Creative Life in Television.” While I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it either. Overall, I couldn’t see myself as an adult working in the entertainment industry.

Then, of course, I had a flashback to my last summer job: as the Drama specialist at a Jewish summer camp.

I watched kids gain confidence on stage and become more confident in themselves, the way I did when I was 10 and 12. I saw a play over which I had complete control, and I felt amazingly fulfilled when kids at our cast party told me that because their first experience on-stage was so awesome, they would audition for their school play.

How can you compare that to getting a note from assistants nondescriptly thanking you for “All your hard-work?” Was picking up that replacement Blackberry for the mid-level executive you secretly hated so hard, or even fulfilling?

Ask anyone else which is more exciting: a job at a Los Angeles production company in charge of the number one show on television; a job directing a bunch of Jewish kids in a ridiculously campy version of High School Musical, a job which includes playing improvisation games involving the word sausage with immature 10-year-old boys.

Most people would pick Los Angeles. I don’t think I could.

In Los Angeles, coworkers scream and stress about getting Mr. Overpaid Celebrity his coffee, and accidentally dropping that call from the mid-level agent representing the no-talent teen star. At camp, I taught kids about something that changed my life.

This is hard to explain succinctly; life is hard to explain succinctly. No one wants to hear the whole story when they ask me what I want to do after graduation, but this is the truth, and I’m sure it’s the truth for most recent graduates. You think you know what you want and then one day you wake up and realize you were completely wrong.

If you had told me a year ago I’d be looking into internships at private schools in Boston and graduate programs in theater education rather than finding an office job in Los Angeles or New York, I would have questioned your sanity. Who knows if I’ll still be excited in a year? Right now, I’m excited about what I think I want to do.

Just don’t ask me about it at the next dinner party.

Starbucks’ Internet was being uncooperative yesterday. I wasn’t about to go home, yet, what with two free hours of Internet just outside my grasp. I decided to wait it out and try again later.

I turned on my Tetris. I lost. Points: 178,364.

Eventually I figured out the problem: This specific Starbucks’ router still redirects the user to a T-Mobile login when the national chain switched to AT&T.

Figures. I went back to Tetris. I lost. Points: 203,435.

Who should at that moment walk in to the Starbucks but an old adviser from college? She had arranged a meeting here with Professor Emeritus, a legendary department figure I’d only ever heard of before, and one who had read, and said he liked, what I wrote for the school paper.

We made some more small talk; I let the two of them get to their meeting, turning instead to Tetris. I lost. Points: 153,239.

Just as I started another game, my old adviser, done with her conversation with Prof. Emeritus, came over to swap a few more war stories from back in the day I still worked at the school paper. In the course of this conversation, it came out that I was looking for a job, as did my observation that journalism had almost exactly zero openings.

Have you considered advertising? Our advertising curriculum has been doing our students a disservice, because it doesn’t really focus on writing skills. The first thing employers ask now is how our students can write, and I have to be honest about it: Not so well. We’re reworking our program now, but for the time being you might find more than a few openings that might suit you.

There are a few other former print journalism students from the paper who found jobs in advertising because they can write. You should try that.

I hadn’t thought of that. I began my generic cover letter.

I can write. I hear this is a marketable skill.

Thanks be to shoddy curricula.

Thanks to the futzing of a roommate, I don’t have Internet, and I probably won’t until after Thursday. I’ll still keep up with daily posts, in part because of a national chain that tries way too hard to be trendy. In short: Thank you, Starbucks.

Even though your employees know absolutely nothing helpful about troubleshooting your free Internet, and even though “free” means “buy a $5 gift card and register it online to obtain Internet access,” it’s the thought that counts.

I don’t mind the gift card requirement — I knew you had the best intentions. As such, I went out of the way to make sure you didn’t end up a liar. I had my roommate buy a $5 gift card, using only negligible coercion of my own. As it turned out, she immediately used the card to purchase herself one of your many fatty, sugary, overcaffinated drinks, and she gave me the rest of the gift card.

Sure, there’s only 70 cents left. That’s still enough to register the card online to get my despite-your-best-efforts-still-free Internet.

I don’t even mind the two-hour limit on Internet use. I figure that this is for my own good. Without an artificial, largely arbitrary restriction, I’d stay on all day, and that would sorely diminish the chances I’d ever finish The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

Thank you, soulless, corporation of gargantuan proportions in every concievable sense. I will be a happy patron of your comfortable chairs and free Internet, and I’ll show it. Until your Internet policies inevitably change, Starbucks will be my exclusive source of iceless water in a pretentiously named large cup.

Please don’t take any of this personally. It’s just that if I at all behaved differently, my Internet wouldn’t be free.