Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Against odds, some grads find Wall Street jobs

Against odds, some grads find Wall Street jobs - This was the title of an article on CNN's homepage today.  I have quite a few bones to pick with this article, and the basic thing that I hope to prove is that LUCK is the only thing that gets people jobs.   

Ok, so the article starts with an anecdote about a young man from Emory who has landed a "stellar" job as an investment banker at Royal Bank of Canada.  The reporter goes on to say, "...those who have succeeded in getting Wall Street job offers voice almost unflappable optimism in the face of the bleak economic picture."  Oh really?  Those people who got 6 figure jobs right out of grad school are optimistic?  That's amazing, Mr. Reporter.  Please, tell me more.   

The article later quotes a senior economist at Moody's (*rolls eyes*) who says, "'I'm sure there is a huge disappointment' among recent [MBA] graduates."  Holy crap, that is an understatement.  Huge disappointment doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.  Most graduate schools are money-making scams that funnel people in with promises of money and connections and knowledge, and then slam the door on their students as soon as the graduation ceremony ends.  Let me put it this way:  I don't think it would be very hard for me to assemble a pitch-fork wielding mob to go storm the dean's office at the local university like villagers trying to kill the Frankenstein monster.  The way grad students have been screwed by this recession, it's a wonder there isn't rioting in the streets.  Thank God for rampant apathy and drug use.

Then the article quotes some dumbass C.E.O. of an outplacement consulting firm.  This guy hedges worse than your average used car salesman.  I'll highlight all his qualifying words just to show you how he's saying words, but not really forming a cohesive thought.  He says, "...'some [graduating business students] are optimistic maybe because they're new and naive...and that's not all bad, because some of those people may be the ones who will find jobs.'"  So what he's saying is, being optimistic may help some people maybe find jobs some of the time...maybe.  By that logic, wearing a tea cozy on your head could also maybe prevent alien abduction in some people some of the time.  

Finally, the article quotes Mr. Frank Albus, a recent graduate of the MBA program at University of Chicago and one of the few students with a job offer.  Albus says, "'There are jobs. It's just a matter of just going out and making it happen."  This advice is so super awesome because it sounds really easy to do (and thus makes anyone who hasn't just "made it happen" feel really pathetic), and it also tells you nothing about what you actually have to do to make anything happen.  Also, I love getting told by someone who went to one of the top schools in the world and got a kick-ass job right out of school, how there are jobs out there, I just have to try harder to get one.  

And now I come to my point:  Luck is the only force that matters for success, and unfortunately we can't do diddly squat about what luck does to us.  We just have to be happy for the good things we have and we have to not get swelled heads about what we have achieved - it could very easily have happened to someone else.  

For whatever reason, when someone achieves success, they usually want to give themselves a lot or all of the credit for what they have achieved.  When Mr. Albus says that there are jobs out there and they just have to be pursued, he makes the assumption that he got his job because of something he did.  I don't know this guy or his circumstances, but I can assure you that when I get a job (geez, or IF I get a job) it will only be because of luck.  It will not be because I applied for 500 positions or e-mailed hundreds of contacts or went to all the pink slip mixers in California - it will literally be because I happened to catch a recruiter on a good day, or because I ran into someone I went to college with, or because Jupiter was in Mercury's retrograde...whatever.  The obstacles standing in the way of me getting a job are things I can't control: the economy, labor supply and demand, industry downsizing <-- it's just bad luck that they all coalesced at the precise moment I graduated and went on the job market.  Therefore I cannot logically take credit when I get a job - if I blame bad luck for unemployment, I must give good luck props for getting me a job.  There's a good analogy in poker - which is no doubt a skill game - but if the cards are garbage hand after hand, you just can't win.  All you can do is take solace that statistically, you shouldn't lose forever....yay?   

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