A man who wishes to be known only as The Graduate reminds us there is life on the other side.
I would have given my life savings to avoid the pants-shittingly dull interview I attended this week. It was for the position of Account Manager at a daily print-publication for commuters. Out of propriety, or perhaps cowardice, I won’t name the publication. Nor will I name the notorious media conglomerate that owns it: let’s just call them Gnus Ltd.
When I arrived at the Gnus Ltd. office in Surry Hills I was escorted to a room where I met the other participants of the group interview. There were four of them, all young women, sitting around a makeshift boardroom table that had been assembled from a bunch of smaller wheelie tables. Sweat patches were appearing under their armpits – the women’s, I mean, not the tables’ – and we all wore plastered-on smiles as we forged our way through stilted chitchat.
A few minutes later, three women in their 30s came in and introduced themselves. There was Tracey, the editor; Sarah, the Advertising Manager; and Kim, the account manager manager or something. They explained that our first challenge was to work together to find a solution to a hypothetical scenario. I soon realised, however, that it was actually irresolvable. Instead it was intended merely to test our capacity for teamwork, multi-tasking, self-starting, creative thinking, solutions-architecture, and the rest of that trendy bilge that people in the industry say about media jobs. Tracey, Sarah and Kim each sat silently taking notes while we five interviewees made an exhibition of our insincerely genial brainstorming session. I felt like I was on one of those hellish panel shows where humourists like Clive Anderson and the ever-tedious David Mitchell compete to be the funniest in the room: everyone’s seen to be enjoying themselves but you know that really, under the table, the competitors are sharpening their claws and they’re ready to do whatever it takes to outperform everyone else.
Next we were each given a laptop and we had fifteen minutes to draft two emails on behalf of some senior executive. And I tell you what, when I grow up I want one of those plum executive positions where interns and other people do all your work, and your only responsibility is to present an annual report to the shareholders and then take a multi-million-dollar payout when you inevitably fuck everything up and step down.
Finally we each had an individual interview with Tracey and Sarah. They called me in last, and although they were nice enough, we still covered all the usual hackneyed bunkum: where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Busking shirtless in Devonshire Tunnel. What is your greatest weakness? Punctuality. And, of course, why do you want this position? Because I’m povo. Their final question was about my salary expectations. I said around $55,000-$60,000 a year, based on my experience and skill set (all bluff).
It was the end of the week when Tracey called me back to tell me I hadn’t gotten the job because, apparently, I was over-qualified. I asked her what salary they were offering, and she said, “35 to 40 thousand dollars, tops.”
I said, “You know, sandwich artists make more than that. So do baristas.”
“What’s your point?” she replied.
“Well, I’ve got a Bachelor of Arts from UTS.”
“Yeah, and so does everyone else in hospitality. Listen, mate: if you wanted a career, you shouldn’t have gone to clown college. Simple as that.” Then she hung up.
I’m sure you’ll understand, friends, that, like a first-year student in Week 4 of Language and Discourse, I’m feeling confused, desperate, and full of doubt about the decisions that have led me to this juncture. But I must press on. Having read this third article in my dubious column, you will see that, despite the HD average I sustained throughout my studies, I am still down, very much out, and thoroughly beshitten.
So, my dear chums, let us join together in mock prayer: may you make more contacts than someone who produces corrective lenses, may you fit more internships into your schedule than UTS crams students into tutorials, and may you find your own path to a degree of happiness, because I assure you, a degree in Communication only guarantees misery and disillusionment.
X-men. I mean, Amen.