Caps, Gowns and Job Hunting

Graduation is almost upon us. This is the magical time in a student's life when all thoughts turn to caps, gowns, shiny new cars, a celebratory week at the beach and drinking until you puke up your small intestines, which thanks to having taken Biology 104 three times you can identify immediately when you see it floating in the toilet.Unfortunately it also means job hunting. Oh, stop that uncontrollable sobbing, it isn't really as painful as most people expect. Lots of things in life are worse. Like having a root canal done on all your teeth without an anesthetic. Or watching Conan O'Brien.The difficult part of finding a job is figuring out which one you want. It would be easy if there was only one job, then someone else could have it and we could all spend our lives frolicking in the sun as the good Lord intended. Unfortunately God laughs like Ricky Ricardo, which means we have to spend the best days of our lives basking in fluorescent light and our evenings trying to rest up so we can spend even more days basking in fluorescent light.But as long as you're going to have to work until you're too old to enjoy life (known as "retirement"), you might as well give some thought to what you're going to do. First, ignore whatever field you majored in. Remember how you chose Neolithic French Literature because there was no periodic table to memorize and the text book was all pictures? Well it's going to be hard making a living in that field, meaning if you're not careful you're going to find yourself waiting tables right alongside the English majors, History majors, Liberal Arts majors, Science majors, Political Science majors and virtually every other major except Lee Majors who is living proof that acting ability isn't necessary to get work in Hollywood or to get Farah Fawcett into bed, though it could help to keep her there.You're going to have to find something new to do. Start by thinking of all the things you like to do most. Now eliminate them all because there's very little call for professional inside drinkers, sleepers, stomach scratchers or toenail trimmers. Sex is out too. After all, why would you pay yourself to do something you already do for free?So let's look at some career possibilities. You could be a teacher. I'm sure you've heard that famous quote, "Those who can, retire to Tahiti; those who can't, climb on top of the highest building in town and snipe thirty-seven people with an AK-47." But while teaching has gained a bad reputation over the years -- thanks to low pay, long hours and the abolition of corporal punishment -- it's really a very rewarding career. Especially if you teach in the western Ukraine where, due to severe financial problems, they recently started paying teachers off with vodka.Then there's the field of congressional consulting. Every day the members of Congress (motto: "What do you want for 133 grand a year?") spend hours talking to highly paid consultants. This isn't, as you'd expect, because of their expertise in a particular field, but rather because the only way members of Congress can get anyone to talk to them is to pay them. Hence the proliferation of prostitutes in Washington, DC."But aside from selling my body, how can I, the average American, become a congressional consultant?" you're asking as you tear another Absolut ad from this month's Details, mistaking it for a Ukrainian teacher recruitment poster. It's easy: become a musician.Hey, it worked for Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. Baxter, you might remember, was a member of the 70's rock band The Doobie Brothers. Besides having the distinction of being in the 4,224th band named after a drug reference, Baxter was also in Steely Dan, a band named after a slang term for a dildo. It was this kind of rigorous training that convinced Senator Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania to hire Baxter on as his advisor on missile defense. Really. That and the fact that Baxter lied and said he'd worked for NASA and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory."Cool!" you're saying, trying to sound as much like a missile defense consultant as possible. "But I don't know a thing about rock 'n roll." Well, that's easy. Just grab a guitar, pack up your flannel and move to Seattle, home of the Mariners, the Space Needle and Muzak.Muzak, you might remember, is the only form of torture approved by the Geneva Convention and is most effective when trapped in an elevator with three people who are talking about you in a foreign language while listening to 1001 Strings performing Led Zeppelin's greatest hits. And while grunge musicians ("Nominated in the category of Best Oxymoron") claim it's the long hours of rehearsal that form their unique sound, the fact is many of them got their start working for Muzak, including Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, Mark Arm of Mudhoney and Bruce Pavitt, co-founder of Sub Pop Records.Finally, you might consider being a writer, like Patsy Cornwell, who just signed a three-book deal for $24 million or as a columnist for a weekly newspaper who -- you know, come to think of it that teaching job in the Ukraine sounds awfully enticing.


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