ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2010:
College is not a vocational school, which is lucky for college, and also for you. Looking for a job that you like is almost nothing like getting an A on a test in History of Culture. It is almost nothing like not reading a book and then giving a presentation on it. It is almost nothing like the last day of English 202 when everybody got up in front of the class and shared something that they had learned that year.
In college you were worried about getting an A on the essay, but in real life you won’t even be allowed to turn the essay in until you’ve already gotten an A on it from three other professors who refuse to even look at it until you go to grad school. Does that make sense to you? I hope not, because if it does college has taught you nothing except the cost advantage of pre-gaming.
You may have always imagined, in some vague and magical way, that because you graduated with honors and someone once called your poem Jazz Cats the work of a young genius that you would not be the kind of person who sits at a desk answering a phone 8 hours a day, but you will be this kind of person, at least for a little while.
The thing that is probably even more difficult to grasp at this moment is how difficult it will be to get this job that you don’t even want. Yes, even with your honors and the heady praise for Jazz Cats from your college lit magazine. You might think to yourself, that you will just get a job waiting tables until you can find your real career. Think again. Getting a job waiting tables is about 20 times more difficult than getting a job answering a phone 8 hours a day, and that is because it pays better, and does not require a college degree. Now we’re getting somewhere.
There are a lot of jobs a liberal arts degree prepares you for, but they are all jobs that don’t exist. Let me be the first to tell you that you won’t see a lot of ads on Craigslist that call for a Professionally Drunk Scottish Dancing Thesis Writer who can take completely accurate lecture notes while at home sleeping.