As I stand on the cusp of entering an unforgiving job market, there's a part of me that wants to give up on the institutionalized working economy that is America. It's funny, categorizing the job market as institutionalized, when all history classes ever teach is the reverence of capitalistic America as the pinnacle of a free market economy. The world's strongest and richest nation, they would say. Being a graduating college senior with an English degree is not easy. As a matter of fact, it's rather awkward. The older friends you've known have moved on to bigger and better things in the "real world," the people around you are either stuck in the same boat or way ahead in the race, and anyone else still in school, well, has to face the dilemma eventually. There isn't anything to hope for, except to swap positions with someone else.
After receiving my first internship rejection of the season, I stared at the two-paragraph long email for a good three minutes and decided to delete it. Keeping it wouldn't do me any good. I wasn't exactly interested in seeing it every time I checked my email and I sure as hell didn't appreciate the succinctness of the letter. They sent the email a short two days after I submitted my application. All I could imagine is the hiring manager taking a quick glance at my resume and tossing it off to the side to be marked as "rejected" for their email system to properly filter through.
But that was okay because I wasn't expecting a phone call from them anyways and maybe that's the problem. It wasn't that I thought my qualifications were lacking or I put little effort into the application. As a matter of fact, I spent hours grueling over writing the cover letter and countless more to rightfully claim I did what I did on my resume. I knew I wasn't what they were looking for - born out of an average university with a mediocre GPA. I didn't publish a novel, earn academic distinctions, or save the world from destruction. To them, I was just another piece of coal in the stockings. Except I thought I was a diamond.
On the road home for Thanksgiving, I prepared myself for the bombardment of questions my mom would have for me. Sure enough, she began pestering me about my plans after graduation, to which I responded "why don't you have your boss get me a job." She works as a housekeeper for an extremely wealthy family. I knew that wasn't really an answer though, so I reassured her I was in the midst of applying to any open position I could find. Of course she wasn't satisfied with that and threw out the idea of graduate school, to which I shot down in an instant.
How different would it had been if I paid enough to go to a well-recognized private school and networked the heck out of every single person positioned at career fairs? I'd like to think life-changing but the truth is it's easier to claim having Harvard on my degree would help when I don't go to Harvard. Maybe it would've been easier to just change my major instead of growing up thinking the world will love an Asian English major. How many of those pop up every year anyways.
At the end of the day, I'm confined to the piece of my paper being mailed to my house some time in June, a word document I wrote to boast myself up, and a letter regurgitating the things companies want to hear. It'll be that way until someone decides to call me for an interview or write a crazy, stupid cover letter in hopes of getting recognized over uniqueness rather than merit. For now, there isn't much to do except to slave away in submitting applications in hopes for some pit from a hiring manager. In a lot of ways, it's a lot like submitting this piece into the New York Times: hopefully looked at but it wouldn't be surprising otherwise.
The process is frustrating, being looked over by strangers for menial jobs, while the seemingly incompetent suite mate, only two weeks removed from sending his first job application, is staying at a first-class hotel, accepting a job offer paying absurd amounts. And all this is based on a few pieces of paper supposedly encompassing me, as a person, in its entirety. That's the outlook at least and probably in everyone's eyes, ironically so. Apparently this is the American dream.
When I finally get my first job, I'll be sure to update this post.