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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

You Ought to Be a Mortician

So, what do you want to be when you grow up? When we were five that was the easiest question in the world. I was going to be a billionaire, my best friend was going to be a ballerina, and my boyfriend was going to be President of the United States. At five, the difficulties or impracticalities of these dreams were irrelevant. At that point we had 15 years or three life spans before we would even graduate college, let alone have to figure out how to turn our dreams into realities. As I approach 21, I am no longer sure that billionaire is the right career choice. In fact, I am no longer sure it is actually a career, although I do have a number of friends majoring in it. However, if billionaire isn't the right career choice, what is?

A friend of mine was recently plagued with similar questions, so he went and filled out one of Career Services' personality assessment surveys. After carefully considering my friend's interest in counseling, his desire to be his own boss, and of course his preference for the color black, it was decided that he was best suited to a career as a mortician. If that's my friend's best prospect after spending four years and $120,000 at Dartmouth, I am a little worried.

When I first decided on Dartmouth friends and family would smile and nod approvingly. "A liberal arts education" they'd say, "you can do anything with that." Well, it's true. The only catch is that you have to go to graduate school first. After spending all winter and spring applying for the same jobs that thousands of other English majors were applying for, I realized that the only jobs for which I was qualified were those that required no qualifications. I sent in numerous resumes to jobs that wanted someone who "loves reading" and has "good writing skills," but just about everybody and their mother has these "qualifications."

Pause for a moment and think about all the people you know that have gotten good internships for the summer. I bet the majority of them are economics, math, engineering, biology, chemistry or computer science majors. Now think of all the people who have crummy summer jobs or no jobs at all. Most likely you are thinking of humanities majors, a.k.a. students without a skill. So you have read Milton, Plato and Locke. Who cares? The real question is, "Can you design a web page?"

Three years of this cycle of exertion and rejection is enough to send anyone to law school. Is it a cop out? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Is there really anything virtuous and noble about repeatedly being rejected from your dream job only to finally wind up working a job that pays slightly more than waitressing? Forgive me if I sound disillusioned, I just got rejected from a tour guiding job at a national park. Apparently they were looking for someone with a little more "earth science" experience. So what am I going to do this summer? I don't know. Perhaps I'll stay up in Hanover. Maybe I'll decide not to worry so much about my future and just have a good time. True my 15 years run out this spring, but being 21 isn't all bad -- I can finally drink. Maybe I'll just spend this summer enjoying my present, rather than worrying about my future, or perhaps I'll take the LSATs.