Reflections on the Career Fair
Of all the free stuff, the squishy foam remote from Comcast was my favorite item. No less than four of the booths were giving away things that a prospective employee might squeeze should he or she wish to relieve stress. I hope I'm not alone in thinking this a little cheeky of them -- like Greyhound recruiting their drivers with little tubes of Preparation H.
Some of the jobs on display at this year's career fair sounded ludicrously unsubstantial. It was fascinating to watch the recruiters struggle through explanations of what they actually do:
"My company puts people looking for market-specific strategies in touch with a team of industry-specific experts in market research."
"It's difficult to explain but I make a lot of money."
Of course, all my favorite companies were the local ones. Their booths had the low-budget charm of public TV commercials and my only wish is that next year they make more obvious their truest attraction by adding to their booths the following banners: Does your girlfriend still have one or more years left at Dartmouth? Are you nervous about your ability to find a wife in the outside world? Consider an executive track job at C&S Wholesale Grocers headquartered in Keene, New Hampshire, and continue to experience the Upper Valley in all its frozen glory. C&S Wholesalers did actually muster a pretty impressive sell. Every scrap of food, every drop of delicious water on its way from the springs of Poland to the shelves at Shaw's spends at least a day in their mighty warehouse and they're looking for people to manage it. Is that something you might be interested in?
Sadly, no, but this is: The titan that is Google -- the program, the brand, the corporation that defines the way we use the Internet as surely as the steering wheel defines the way we drive a car -- is looking for someone to work in their public relations department. Here, in Hanover, N.H., the company that will work with global governments to make the most significant modern decisions about censorship and the free flow of information is looking for someone to help them. I, for one, am quite flattered. I'd love a company sharpie and thank you for asking.
And so, prideful though I was in flip-flops and a T-shirt, looking neither smart nor casual, I was brought to my knees, and crouching humbly, I typed my information into the computer; I wrote my name down on the little sheet and made notes on the back of my hand about the deadline to drop off a resume here, a little piece of my independence there.
If I had any balls at all, I would have said that I don't even actually attend Dartmouth, that I move cars around for students in Hanover who have nowhere to park on weekdays and that on weekends I campaign against 'Pave the Green' lobbyists who are threatening to put me out of work and that would have been the end of it. But of course I said none of this (except to the generous souls at Enterprise Rent-A-Car who offered me a job on the spot). I directed no unwarranted hostility towards our once-peers, those noble volunteers who return to the bosom of their formative years in shiny shoes and wrinkled sport coats and who rushed off today to the airport in Big Yellow Taxis for the last flight to JFK. Not only did I accept them in their sleek glory, I admired them in their wholehearted acceptance of the following paradigm.
We Dartmouth students are elite mercenaries of the modern age. The fiefdoms of Bain and William Blair, of Deutsche Bank and Bridgewater and Fidelity and Goldman all want us in their private armies and they want us very badly. They want us far more than the U.S. Army or the New York State Police force -- who were both here also, by the way. They don't care at this stage if we're music majors or mathematicians, miscreants or misogynists. They just need numbers. They need to take the advantage away from us, because right now, we're the ones in charge -- we choose, then they choose, but they can only choose among those that have already chosen them.
So let's enjoy the advantage while we have it. If we must prostitute our intellectual charms in the name of security and advancement and servicing outlandish debt (and I admit that many of us must), then at least let there be no shame in that among ourselves. Let us be the prostitutes that Gore Vidal calls the only intelligent women on earth: the jaded ones that through understanding and observation transcend the baseness of their profession and their lives.