Ladies and Gentleman, I am humbled to announce that I have a celebrity victim today. Please welcome Adam Richman to Victimizing Other Bloggers!
Oh… wait. That’s not Adam Richman? Darn. It sure looked like him.
Despite that huge disappointment, we do have an exciting victim who happens to be an Adam Richman lookalike. His name is Josh Sterner and he hates working in retail. He gives a lot of reasons (and visits the topic elsewhere on his blog) but a lot of these probably apply to people in other lines of work as well. Before he complains about these things again, I’d like to ask him a few hard-hitting questions about his job:
1: Are you required to transport old, moldy meat and produce out of the store. I did not see that on your list and that worries me. I’ve seen the occasional green loaf of bread and fuzzy sirloin on the shelves but it worries me that your employer is not forcing you to do these unpleasant tasks. By not complaining about your employer making you do this, you are opening your paycheck-giver to litigation and that would be bad for your professional future.
2: Does your store rent out those fancy vacuum cleaners? When you’re stuck doing a night shift with no customers around, have you ever tried giving your dog a bath with one of those things?
3: Have you ever tried giving a coworker a bath with one of those things?
4: Did you start dating that coworker soon after that night?
5: How many crushed insects can the customer expect to find in the average loaf of bread?
6: How many crushed insects can the customer expect not to notice in the average loaf of bread?
7: Why did your store stop carrying my favorite product?
8: Why do you always get 500 people asking you that question AFTER the product is discontinued when there were only 20 people who ever bought it in the first place?
9: Is there anything in that yellow frosting other than sugar and water? Or: do you have less nauseating ways to release your stress?
10: Do you realize that you named your employer in an earlier post?
I will be back to the victimizations tomorrow, but today I’d like to continue on the same topic I was on yesterday. A question I am often asked is what a former college instructor can do outside of a university setting. The other question is what on earth I would want to do outside of a university setting. The first question has an easy answer: a former college instructor (who was good at his job) has demonstrated excellence in writing, research, teaching (management), oral presentation, oral sex, and whatever skills and knowledge come with the subject the instructor taught. In theory, someone with these capabilities should be snapped up almost immediately by employers. However, as I indicated in my last post, it does not turn out that way because so many people have negative views of people with a Ph.D. Or maybe the lowly resume readers in HR were never forced to read a word with more than one syllable in it while they were in college. Same difference.
And that brings me to the second question: what I would want to do. A lot of businesses assume that a Ph.D. means that I don’t want to be working for them, that a Ph.D. would only be happy in the university. As you know about me by now, that’s not true. I’ve been amazed at how much there is outside of the university and I’ve seen quite a few things (that are legal in at least 25 states) that would make me very happy. I don’t much feel like going through a complete list, so I’ll offer up a take on my dream job… if it exists anywhere. And to get things started, I have a pretty little picture for you:
Okay, so it’s a cheap PowerPoint slide, but this picture symbolizes the kind of job I would like to have. To protect their jobs, educators spend a lot of time inflating students’ self-esteem and the kids often become arrogant and a little lazy. And then businesses hire them and have to figure out a way to make them productive. These kids need pretty little pictures if they are to pay attention to reading material and, like with the picture, they have a hard time deciphering anything that hints at their lack of unique awesomeness. It is my hope that a business will hire me as an educational deprogrammer who will
put these kids in their place explain to these kids what was done to them when they were students. Because I’ve worked in college teaching, I understand the psychological complexes that the universities are sowing in their students and I can speak with authority when I tell the kids that it’s not their fault that they need to change. (And let’s be honest: “it’s not your fault” is the only message the kids will listen to. Fortunately, it’s the truth.)
I’ve never heard of a job like this… but if your business needs help straightening out its recent hires, I would be happy to victimize them. And I even promise to be nice about it! I’ll be my usual happy-go-lucky self.
We regret to inform you that we will not be hiring you to be our new Bilingual Computer Screen Cleaner. We don’t care if you’ve spent ten years cleaning every glass object known to man; we need someone with in-depth expertise in cleaning computer screens. And while we appreciate your passion for computers and keeping your screen free of dust, we want a Windex specialist. And then you’re not even a native speaker of Norwegian! Even though you lived in Norway for 14 years, we demand that our new employee be a native Norwegian speaker because it is critical to success on the job. We understand why you applied but you’re a doofus for thinking we would lower our standards to hire you. Even though this job has been open for over a year, we will let it remain vacant until we get exactly what we had envisioned.
Squeaky Screen Inc.
PS: If President Obama is defeated in 2012, please consider applying for this position again. Once we have a more business-friendly president, we can pick up hiring. We don’t want unemployment to go down until the political benefits will attach to a politician we like.
Since ceasing my employment with The University of X a few months ago, I have been looking for a new job. I recently visited my undergraduate alma mater’s Career Services office (because they also help alumni) even though I was really worried about the idea.
The reason I was worried is probably not what you are thinking. You may not realize this, but the “Career Service” office is often not a “service.” For a moment, let’s forget that the college has a vested interest in having its potential donors be employed and making as much money as possible. There are other vested interests that many of you may not be aware of.
I’ll start with the big one. If you are enrolled in law, medicine, or another program that normally leads to careers in a specific field, the college needs you to choose that field for the institution’s sake. If too many law students choose to do something other than law, it can make the school look bad when rankings time comes around. (There are also a few industrious applicants who ask about this.) Some programs find a way around this in their promotional materials by telling people that “90% of our graduates are employed within 3 months of graduation.” What they fail to tell you is that half of those people are selling cosmetics door-to-door. I have a feeling that these graduates didn’t take on so much debt to end up selling cosmetics.
But back to rankings: if you consider going for a Ph.D., you need to understand a few things up front. Most importantly, a strong program will probably not accept you unless your application materials say “I want to become a professor.” Doctoral programs recruit new students based on the professor jobs its graduates receive. (And again be careful. Some programs will say that 90% of their graduates secure academic appointments after completing the degree. That number can include Visiting Assistant Professors who only stay at a college for a year or two. It can also include a large number of people who teach for less than what a Wal-Mart cashier makes. The key word to hunt for is “Tenure-Track.”) But if you are nearing the end of your program and decide that you want to do something else, you can often expect that Career Services will encourage you to pursue the career that typically flows from the degree you are pursuing, even if it is painfully obvious that you should be doing something else.
Moral of the story: Remember that your college has financial and reputational concerns of its own and Career Services exists to serve those, not you. This is why I love my undergraduate Career Services office so much. It’s in their interest to help me because so many people with graduate degrees forget about their undergrad colleges. In their eyes, I’m a donor in the making. And the undergraduate college’s academic programs don’t benefit at all if I choose one career path over another. Although it’s counterintuitive, and even though it really helped to also speak with a specialist who knows about the unique problems facing Ph.D.-holding job applicants, the undergrad institution’s office has been an excellent resource.
Things turn out better when Career Services’ goals match your goals.