Joe Kind, A Guy
I struggled to write this week’s column because I refuse to validate the job hunt experience as the debilitating, life-sucking endeavor that so many college students claim it to be. At least I refuse to render my own experience looking for employment in that way. But this past weekend was the first big deadline for many high-profile job applications, and not to acknowledge the importance of this moment is a disservice to the integrity of this column.
The job hunt process engenders a spectrum of personalities amongst college seniors. For starters, there’s the senior that already has a job lined up for next year. He or she had a great internship at some point these past three years, and has accepted an offer to go back to work full-time at said institution. These seniors exist in mystifyingly significant numbers — they are plentiful yet somehow sort of elusive in nature.
There’s the senior juggling multiple job offers. Highly confident in their skill sets (and rightfully so), these seniors are milking the process that they already excelled in not too long ago when looking for internships. They want to make as informed of a decision as possible, because they are able to. Good for them, I guess.
There’s the senior who ought to have a job by now, but doesn’t for some reason. Everyone expects this senior to have a job already because this senior is seemingly one of the smartest people you know on campus. You know that he or she has an awesome resume and would bring value to any company. I pity these seniors, because I know how great they are, and because they are arguably under the most pressure right now. But I am also admittedly frustrated that these highly qualified seniors are still struggling — if they have yet to figure it out, then how long is it going to take me?
And then there are the seniors without a job. Most seniors across the country, by the way. Nonetheless this category of college students contains further subspecies of seniors. There’s the senior who, fully aware of where he or she wants to be in five years, is preparing for the time to perform his or her own appropriate application kamikaze, given the timing of his or her respective career field of choice. There is the senior who is methodically, slowly researching his or her companies of choice and preparing for his or her application process accordingly. There is the senior contemplating the nuances of the fellowships, Fulbrights and other forms of foundational grant dollars available to him or her. There is the senior who is laying the groundwork for a variety of career paths, stalling to pick one conclusively. And let us not forget about the senior who is still putting the pieces together so that he or she can graduate on time.
As Dartmouth students we should be very familiar with the pressure, both internally and amongst our peers. We practically went through this already just to get here. What’s different about the job search, hypothetically, is that the stakes are raised. But is that really a divergence from what we experienced just to get here?
Yes, for some of us.
Without question, this time of our lives is especially unique. Therefore what we say and do in response to these situations is all the more earnest in intention.
I put together an application for a company with an hour left to go before the Dartmouth-specific application portal closed. I ended up missing the deadline by two minutes. I reload the page of full-time entry-level positions and see that around 100 entries are no longer on the page. That’s about a 75 to 80 percent decrease in a single second. I was able to perform that so-called back-of-the-envelope calculation because I’ve studied for case interviews in my recent past. Don’t be proud of me.
Part of me feels really bad for myself, but another part of me thinks I should probably feel more sullen than I do. Of course I power through yet another cover letter only to barely miss the mark. I deserve to throw my hands up at the sting of it. The fact is, my plan of attack was incorrectly calculated, and now I have to move on.
Clearly I don’t yet know what I am doing with this whole thing. Unlike the college selection process, I have no idea which firms might want to hire me and which ones won’t even make it to my resume. But that’s beside the point.
The next time you walk past a senior today, give him or her a meaningful greeting of some kind. A high five will probably do (for me at least). It’s really up to you and what you think is best. Do not do this because you perceive your senior friends to be sad, pathetic creatures clawing at the remains of their college existence. Even if that may be true.
Do this instead because you have only a faint idea of the kinds of decisions seniors across all walks of campus are considering right about now, with less than a third of our senior fall under our belts.